Revisionist powers are on the move. From eastern Ukraine and the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, large rivals of the United States are modernizing their military forces, grabbing strategic real estate, and threatening vulnerable U.S. allies. Their goal is not just to assert hegemony over their neighborhoods but to rearrange the global security order as we have known it since the end of the Second World War.
We first wrote about these emerging dynamics in 2010, and then in TAI in 2011.
Yes, a year and a half ago I warned of the approaching predators--which I predicted in 2009:
Saying that foreign policy is a distant second in priorities for this administration might seem an odd thing to say for a president who has traveled abroad so much already.
But it makes sense if you think of the trips abroad as efforts to disengage from foes and retreat a bit by giving our foes what they want in order to buy time to pass domestic legislation.
Understand that when you retreat, it takes a while for an enemy to pursue you and fill the vacuum. And that time it takes for the enemy to re-engage will surely be much quieter.
And if you want to, you can argue that the period of quiet while the enemy approaches is actually "peace." It isn't peace, but you can pretend for a while that it is so you can focus on domestic issues.
And boy did the president's fans pretend for a while. Allow me to quote the best-case scenario put forward (in the same month as my warning):
On foreign policy, the goal has been to prevent chronic problems from becoming attention-absorbing crises. To ensure that low-level trade conflicts with China don't poison the broader bilateral relationship, the administration has picked its fights carefully. To avoid pointless confrontation with Moscow, the White House pledged to "reset" U.S.-Russian relations. Obama signaled a willingness to talk directly with Iran about its nuclear program. It limited administration criticism of the country's disputed presidential election last summer and the government crackdown that followed.
With considerable luck, the strategy has so far proven a success.
Luck! A success!! After 10 whole months there was no disaster!!! Behold the awesome power of Hope and Change!
Although to be fair, that author did say that future years wouldn't be so simple. Little did he guess. If only the obscure connection between initial okay and later disaster had been identified (coughobamacough).
And so here we are, with the barbarians massing at the walls, still wanting more after 7 years of advances at our expense. Who could imagine that outcome, eh?
So yeah, if you feel your Pucker Factor redlining lately, it's understandable. And predictable.