US Weakened Abroad by Washington Disarray

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Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013 08:25 PM

By Elliot Jager

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President Barack Obama's foreign-policy failure is dangerous and foreboding, even if many Americans don't mind the country's turning inward, says Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Obama's foreign policy of appeasement has stoked international chaos.

He leads "from behind," writes Hanson, "seems at odds with the traditional American commitment to ensure — preferably with allies or, if need be, alone — the continuance of the postwar global system of sovereign borders, free trade, safe commerce, and open communications."

In the face of challenges in the Middle East, from Libya to Syria to Iraq, the administration's policies have proven inept, he said. In Iraq, Obama failed to find a formula that would have left a residual U.S. presence to foster constitutional stability.

The result, writes Hanson, is that Iran has filled the void and even usurped Iraqi airspace.

"Once we are out of Afghanistan, the country will probably resort to its pre-9/11 Taliban status," he predicts.

Where the president has found success in the war against Islamist extremism, "he has had to eat his own critical words about the Bush protocols and instead continue them, whether with renditions, the Patriot Act, or keeping Guantanamo open," Hanson says.

Yet America's withdrawal from global leadership does not seem to trouble most of its citizens, who are fed up with the ingratitude of Afghanistan and Iraqi leaders for America's expenditure of blood and treasure, Hanson writes.

Further damage to the prestige of the United States has been inflicted by the government shutdown.

The Wall Street Journal reported that doubt about America's "financial soundness could ripple around the globe," even calling into question "the dollar's status as a reserve currency."

Foreigners who have had U.S. officials lecture them on good government have watched the travails in Washington with a "hint of satisfaction," The New York Times reported.

As one congressional staffer put it to Foreign Policy Magazine: "[We] look like a bunch of fools; it looks like we cannot govern ourselves."

"That's actually the biggest foreign-policy ramification of the shutdown," the staffer said. "How can we with a straight face tell other governments how they can work in a democratic fashion to achieve consensus-based governance? It's ridiculous."

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