The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Ending Asia Trip, Obama Defends Foreign Policy,” portrays an increasingly skeptical attitude toward the President’s dealings with other nations as giving an impression of weakness that is leading to disaster.
It’s important to note that the President’s emphasis on avoiding military engagements makes sense after more than a decade of war. His reluctance to getting drawn into the Syrian conflict could have saved us from a quagmire, and there are really no good options for dealing with Russia and Ukraine. Despite the brutal nature of Russian actions, sending a few arms to Ukraine would hardly affect Russia’s considerations towards a country right on their border nor is it wise to get drawn into a shooting match that could end in World War Three.
As to the acrimony at the failure of Middle East peace talks, well, this arena has proven intractable for generations, and getting an agreement would have been a minor miracle. No matter how much Secretary of State Kerry wants it, if the parties are unable to agree, it should not reflect poorly on him or the President. They get points for just trying.
President Obama is pursuing an incremental approach toward foreign policy, agreed, but when you consider the alternatives, it seems like the only prudent thing to do.