By Matt Ward
As President Barack Obama’s final term draws to a close, it is now time to take stock and reflect upon the impact of his presidency, specifically as it relates to foreign policy.
It will be the tangible results of Obama’s foreign policy, after all, that will dictate the immediate agenda for the next President of the United States of America.
Obama started well. In fact, it’s hard I imagine how it could have been any better. After mere months as President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama was awarded the prestigious, and highly coveted Nobel Peace Prize.
This Peace Prize was given primarily for Obama’s attempts at “resetting”‘ American international relations in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan. To this end, Obama had toured the world giving a number of benchmark speeches that he hoped would set a new tone in American international relations. For better or worse it seemed that change certainly had come to America.
He was lauded for these speeches and the “transformational” attitude they heralded, especially in the Islamic world. Little did those present realise quite how transformational Obama’s foreign policy would actually prove to be.
An illustrious beginning. But hindsight is an unhelpful friend for people looking to establish any kind of meaningful and lasting legacy. Aspirations mean nothing, neither do good intentions, results are what counts in the cold hard world of international relations.
With hindsight, the Nobel Peace Prize, this one crowning achievement at the very beginning of Obama’s first term, was perhaps the foreign policy high point of his entire presidency.
The following eight years have been characterised by utter failure. It would be no great exaggeration to say that US foreign policy under Obama has been an unmitigated disaster. Obama has left a trail of chaos all over the world with a foreign policy that lacks clarity and vision and has certainly set the stage for worse global conflicts to come.
Obamas foreign policy adventure began in real terms by him announcing that all US troops would be gone from Afghanistan by late 2014, and that all troops would be out of Iraq by 2011. He later reveresed course in Afghanistan, saying that troops would actually stay until 2017.
Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 despite heavy criticism and concern, at home and abroad, that this withdrawal from Iraq was entirely premature and would lead to an explosion of terrorism and violence.
This is exactly what happened; almost every major Iraqi city erupted into the most horrific sectarian violence after the stabilising presence of US forces left. Iraq remains in a quagmire of violence from which it seems completely unable to escape to this day.
Yet despite all this, Obama persisted in his belief that a withdrawal from Iraq was the correct course of action to take. He was never talked around by his military advisors, his own intelligence community or other international leaders, all of whom were asking him to slow down or pause the troop withdrawal.
Nothing swayed him, not even the dramatically rising Iraqi civilian body count.
Iraq was undoubtedly the first major foreign policy failure of Barack Obama’s presidency, and it came about primarily because of his own personal hubris. Obama simply believed that despite all the conflicting advice and information, he knew better.
Time proved him wrong.
The mishandling of Iraq led directly to the second major, and on going, foreign policy failure of his administration, the rise of ISIS.
Withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 left a huge vacuum in leadership. There was a vast, gapping chasm where traditional power structures had once been. The police force had been disbanded, as had the Iraqi military after the allied invasion. In late 2011 there was simply no provision to ensure and provide for basic continued societal stability.
There was nobody left in Iraq to keep basic law and order. What there was though, we’re lots and lots of ex policemen and soldiers who were not getting paid and were increasingly resentful of the U.S. presence.
Many of them flocked towards sectarian violence and it was shortly after this point that ISIS really began to take control of Iraq, bringing these disaffected ex soldiers and policemen within their ranks. Unifying them, ISIS stormed the vast Iraqi plains, took Mosul, grabbed the oil fields and rapidly declared a caliphate.
Today, in 2016, the Islamic State are the best funded, most heinous and violent transnational terrorist organisation this world has ever seen. They are a direct result of poor policy and decision making from within this current White House.
ISIS have killed, kidnapped and raped their way across vast swathes of the Middle East. At this point, harsh rhetoric and a few token air strikes are not going to stop them.
And now, this new and very modern type of terrorism is morphing again. Not content to take Syria and Iraq, Islamic State fighters are now taking the fight to us, directly, in our streets, in our communities.
ISIS affiliates are spreading their terror from Paris to Brussels, Orlando to London. More future attacks in mainland America and Europe are an absolute certainty. It really is not a question of “if” but “when”.
Up until this point it could be argued that Barack Obama is just inept, that he is in completely over his head. The same cannot be said of his next foreign policy fail, the Iranian nuclear accord.
If ever there was an international agreement that illustrated the hubris of an administration and its foreign policy, it would be this nuclear deal.
If ever there was an international agreement that showcased an administration disregarding and ignoring obvious facts, it would be this deal.
If ever there was an international agreement that demonstrated how dangerous a rogue president really could be, it is this deal.
Obama, to this day and despite all the hard evidence to the contrary, regards this nuclear accord with Iran as one of the crowning achievements of his entire two term foreign policy effort.
And Iran still have not even signed it. Think about that, they haven’t even signed onto it. It is a deal made with the Devil himself, it is that bad.
Nothing in the last seventy years, since the conclusion of the Jewish Holocaust when six million Jews lost their lives, has placed the tiny Jewish state of Israel in such utter peril.
This nuclear deal, of which Obama is so proud, represents a clear existential threat to the continued existence of the Jewish State, something Obama seems to care nothing about.
The international community, however, is under no illusion about the real state of Iran’s nuclear program. Many, many world leaders are deeply uneasy about Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program.
Speaking on August 4th, President Barack Obama said that the Iranian nuclear deal had, “worked exactly the way we said it would.” He even had the audacity to claim that Israel now supported the accord, something Tel Aviv hotly disputed.
World leaders and Israel are so uneasy about this accord because it is based on lies. President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, both claim that the nuclear accord has put Iran’s nuclear capability back by 10 years. The facts on the ground tell a different story.
If Iran so desired, and likely they do, they could have a workable and deliverable nuclear weapon by the end of 2017. Everybody in the international community knows this. Everybody in the various scientific and military communities know this.
Ali Akbar Salehu, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, stated that if any party violates the nuclear record then Iran could go back to enriching Uranium within just 45 days. Salehu’s deputy has even suggested considerably less than 45 days.
It is against this backdrop that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has in the last six months on numerous occasions, publicly claimed that America itself has violated the accord, not Iran, this nullifying them of any obligations towards it.
The facts are stark and speak for themselves. This nuclear accord with Iran, which Obama views as such a crowning achievement, is actually an utter failure.
Worse than that, so obvious is Iran’s duplicity that one has to question Obama’s motivation in continuing to allow this status quo to stand. Iran are going to become a nuclear breakout state, soon. It will be too late then to do anything about it.
Whatever one personally feels about Obama, he is a highly intelligent man. He understands perhaps better than you or I the true status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the subterfuge and lengths they have gone to in order to hide the fact that they are still actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.
And they also continue to threaten the very existence of Americas erstwhile greatest ally in the region, Israel.
The impression any impartial person looking in from the outside might get is that Obama actually wants Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Iran has been consistently lying to the International Atomic Agency Committee, who’s job it is to oversee compliance with the joint nuclear accord. They have hidden from the inspectors large quantities of second generation IR-2M centrifuges. These centrifuges cut, substantially, the amount of time required to enrich Uranium to weapons grade levels.
Obama knows this.
Iran, in preparation for the nuclear accord, also stock piled huge quantities of other centrifuges. At Natanz alone there are believed to be 15,400, all capable of enriching uranium whenever required. This is a direct contravention of the nuclear accord.
Obama knows this.
Further more, Iran has been circumventing the nuclear accord, which under its terms allow Iran to hold about 300 kilograms of low grade enriched uranium. Iran have been covertly transporting some of this stock to Oman, where the uranium refinement process has been continuing.
This means that the U.S. estimate of “at least a year” before Iran could achieve a nuclear breakout is entirely flawed as it based on an estimate that assumes Iran only have low grade enriched uranium.
Again, Obama knows this, so why the constant charade? This nuclear accord is dead in the water and everybody knows it. It is an epic foreign policy fail.
This terrible accord, bad as it is may be, may yet pale into insignificance compared to the next potential foreign policy catastrophe. The last foreign policy disaster of Barack Obama’s two terms is slightly different though, because it hasn’t happened yet.
There are consistent rumblings in diplomatic circles that as a final, parting betrayal, Obama intends to deliver Israel up to the UN before the end of his presidency.
Obama obviously despises Israel and his foreign policy displays this clearly. That he might deliver Israel to her enemies at the United Nations before he leaves office is a realistic possibility. Never in Israel’s short modern existence has there been a US President so openly hostile to the Jewish State. Betraying Israel at the UN would be no great change of pace for Obama, he has a significant track record for it.
Obama’s entire foreign policy has been, some would say, a highly calculated disaster. Calculated to disempower America globally, alienate her amongst friends and embolden her enemies. The whole western world has become the victim of Obama’s foreign policy.
He has undermined American influence so much that the traditional balance of power, that has maintained a strained peace for so long, has now been destroyed. He has betrayed traditional allies and sought friendship with enemies who have thrown it back in Americas face. He has fundamentally destabilised Iraq and Syria and because of this allowed for the conditions necessary for the rise of ISIS.
The world is a without doubt a worse place for Barack Obama’s presidency.
Worse though, than all this, is his active and continued betrayal of Israel. It will be these acts alone that signal perilous times ahead for America.
Obama’s foreign policy has left Israel as a lamb amongst wolves in the Middle East. They are now totally alone. When the very last vestiges of American support for Israel finally do dry up, as it soon must, so will Gods cover and protection over America itself finally end.
That is a fearful thing.
It might take decades, if that long were left, for the world to recover from Obama’s time in office. That is, of course, assuming that somebody even worse will not soon become President of the United States of America.