17 October 2015

Roger Cohen on Obama: are we entering the age of miracles?

Jolly Roger of NYT used to appear on this pages frequently, and not in a very positive light, to use an understatement. His ability to miss the point on many a subject proved to be amazing, especially in regards of Middle East upheavals, Iran, US policy regarding these developments, etc.

The article Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint is endangering the well established picture of a chronic bumbler. From the start:
One way to define Barack Obama’s foreign policy is as a Doctrine of Restraint. It is clear, not least to the Kremlin, that this president is skeptical of the efficacy of military force, wary of foreign interventions that may become long-term commitments, convinced the era of American-imposed solutions is over, and inclined to see the United States as less an indispensable power than an indispensable partner. He has, in effect, been talking down American power.

President Vladimir Putin has seized on this profound foreign policy shift in the White House. He has probed where he could, most conspicuously in Ukraine, and now in Syria. Obama may call this a form of Russian weakness. He may mock Putin’s forays as distractions from a plummeting Russian economy. But the fact remains that Putin has reasserted Russian power in the vacuum created by American retrenchment and appears determined to shape the outcome in Syria using means that Obama has chosen never to deploy. For Putin, it’s clear where the weakness lies: in the White House.
It is nothing that many other commentators of the White House's wretched foreign policy didn't notice before, but coming from this source it's akin to an armed revolt against all that is held sacred by the powers that be (both the bastion of progressive thought - NYT and the White House in this case).

And the end of the article is no less amazing:
Yet the cost of the Doctrine of Restraint has been very high. How high we do not yet know, but the world is more dangerous than in recent memory. Obama’s skepticism about American power, his readiness to disengage from Europe and his catastrophic tiptoeing on Syria have left the Middle East in generational conflict and fracture, Europe unstable and Putin strutting the stage. Where this rudderless reality is likely to lead I will examine in my next column.
Wow is the only thing I can say. Wow...

Yes, and the promised next column was duly delivered. Another wow.

Will the wonders ever cease?