The Obama administration is facing a number of global security issues that are creating a wave of instability that hasn't been around since the late 1970s, security strategists believe, posing a challenge to Obama's foreign policy and weakening U.S. power.
Already this summer, reports The Wall Street Journal
, the United States has had to contend with renewed hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, civil wars in Iraq and Syria, Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and election issues in Afghanistan.
Talks with Iran over its nuclear program are also said to be near collapse, and China is also building its territorial claims in East Asia, even building man-made islands in the South China Sea.
Experts compare the instability to the period in the 1970s when the then-Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Islamists took over Iran, and Southeast Asia's difficulties after the United States left Vietnam, the Journal said.
Many Obama critics complain his policies have fueled the conflicts, including his decision to pull troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and that he's rejected a larger role in Syria's civil war. In addition, they say he's too reluctant to support allies in Asia and Europe.
"I think our country acting like such a paper tiger to the world on this and so many other fronts is doing incredible long-term damage to our nation," Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said last week at a hearing about Ukraine, according to the Journal. "And I do hope at some point the administration will actually follow through on the things that it continues to tout publicly."
The Islamic State, which has overrun parts of Syria and Iraq, is also posing a serious danger, Attorney General Eric Holder
told ABC News Sunday.
"If they are able to consolidate their gains in that area, I think it's just a matter of time before they start looking outward and start looking at the West and at the United States in particular," Holder said. "So this is something that we have to get on top of and get on top of now."
Holder on Sunday said he is also concerned about new intelligence reports that Yemeni bombmakers are joining terrorists in Syria to build new types of virtually undetectable bombs, a prospect he called "more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general ... This is a situation that we can see developing. And the potential that I see coming out, the negative potential I see coming out of the facts in Syria and Iraq now are quite concerning."
But Obama's aides say the United States is still working to resolve conflicts, including an agreement Secretary of State John Kerry brokered between political rivals in Kabul to audit Afghanistan's disputed presidential vote.
"In every one of these crises, the common factor is that the United States is the one country that's providing leadership," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told the Journal.
But in other cases, the United States' allies are not cooperating, according to the Journal. In Europe, countries balked at imposing sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, and divisions in South Korea and Japan are making it difficult to show a united front on China.
Other foreign diplomats believe the feud between the Sunni and Shiite sects can't be brokered by any outside power.
Obama critics, according to the Journal, are also saying that he's eroding relations while he fulfills his campaign promises from 2008 to wind down wars in the Middle East and work diplomatically with countries such as Iran, Syria, and Russia and leaving a vacuum that can be filled by al-Qaida or other extremist groups.
Middle East leaders are also saying that Obama's reluctance to use force has emboldened terrorist groups and rogue regimes, pointing to the president's failed "red line" threat to strike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime over the use of chemical weapons.
But the Obama administration maintains that there is no single issue linking the incidents that are unfolding.
"It's not really the first time it's been like this," Rhodes told the Journal. "The fact that you have a crisis in Ukraine has nothing to do with Gaza."
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