Monday, February 13, 2017

Mission Relinquished?

Stratfor looks at early indications of Trump foreign policy as a change from internationalism via world bodies to more unilateral isolationism. I don't see the Obama administration with their leading from behind policy of letting the forces of history solve problems as an example of multi-lateral internationalism.

The Stratfor article is interesting on the big picture, but I scratched my head at this:

When the center of an empire turns its gaze inward, when it ignores the periphery, and when it seems to arbitrarily use or withhold its strength and resources, the edges of the empire begin to fray. Other centers of power rise up, some with local or regional aspirations and some with grander visions of usurping global power. Our long-term forecast anticipated greater global chaos, and the United States' willingness to accept it for a time. "It will be a disorderly world, with a changing of the guard in many regions. The one constant will be the continued and maturing power of the United States — a power that will be much less visible and that will be utilized far less in the next decade." The Trump administration has followed this pattern, albeit more blatantly than we imagined, and Washington's fatigue in serving as the world's sole arbiter is clearly starting to show. [emphasis added]

And he isn't using the term "empire" literally, I'll note.

The disorder, fraying, and rise of other centers of power has been a feature of the Obama years. This will not be a new thing for Trump's tenure.

The Obama administration hasn't been an internationalist with a multi-lateral emphasis. President Obama looked on and said that the world could take care of itself without our so-called harmful meddling.

It wasn't a hard pull-out from action, as the Afghanistan surge, Libya War, and Iraq War 2.0 showed.

But letting the world sort itself out was their ideal policy despite some accommodation to the real world that needs active internationalism with America leading from the front to hold off aggressors and disorder.

I noted the inward focus and warned of the advance of other powers into the vacuum early in the Obama tenure.

The Obama administration truly believed that America itself harmed our interests and that the right side of history would advance our goals. I called this the Karma Doctrine.

The Obama administration's decision about 400,000 dead ago to avoid further "militarizing" the Syrian crisis by intervening decisively (if indirectly) was a symptom of believing that American involvement would just make things worse.

Indeed, the view that intervening in Iraq made things worse and that leaving Iraqis alone would let the Iraqis sort out their problems on their own was clearly believed by Democrats who wanted America to avoid intervention in Syria.

How'd that letting Syrians sort out their problems work out? Was breaking 400,000 eggs worth the lovely refugee omelet and Russian/Iranian outpost in Syria that we got?

America is clearly tired of the burden of fighting the Long War against Islamist jihad and holding back the forces of aggression and disorder. So yeah, the isolationist trend is still there for now. That's a valid point.

But the jihadis, aggressors, and forces of disorder will not resolve themselves. And I don't think Trump can or will ignore them even if he wants to as much as Obama wanted his framework to be true.

Contrary to what the Left used to be fond of saying, it does not take two side to wage war. Just one will do (and for the one waging war, that is considered ideal).

If we don't remain actively involved in shaping the world--up to and including fighting in wars if necessary--the wars will continue without us. As the war did in Iraq despite "responsibly ending" that war as President Obama wrongly asserted in his 2011 "mission relinquished" moment.