Tags: middle east | Israel | Saudi Arabia | obama | foreign policy

Max Boot: Obama Vacating US Influence in Middle East

Max Boot: Obama Vacating US Influence in Middle East
(Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 26 March 2015 01:31 PM

President Barack Obama is radically shifting America's Middle East policy, downgrading ties to Israel and Saudi Arabia while letting Iran fill the vacuum, said Max Boot.

In an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, the author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations outlined a number of policies of the Obama administration which, taken together, suggest that "Mr. Obama is attempting to pull off the most fundamental realignment of U.S foreign policy in a generation."

"The president is pulling America back from the leading military role it has played in the Middle East since 1979, the year the Iranian hostage crisis began and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. He is trying to transform Iran from an enemy to a friend. He is diminishing the alliance with Israel, to lows not seen since the 1960s," he wrote.

"Call it the Obama Doctrine: The U.S. puts down the burden, and Iran picks up the slack."

Boot said that a number of different policies lead him to his conclusions. For one, Obama withdrew U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011 and is preparing to leave Afghanistan. Secondly, the administration remains largely silent about Iran's "power grab" in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. And finally, Obama has adopted a new position toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, suggesting that the U.S. may no longer protect Israel at the United Nations.

Boot said that at the very least it can be concluded that Obama is stepping back from the Middle East. The president has already said he planned to "rebalance" commitments by shifting forces to the Pacific. And withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan will be "disastrous and destabilizing."

Boot also argued that Obama's strategy of relying solely on airstrikes, while refusing to commit ground troops in the Middle East, undermines the ability to succeed in military missions.

Meanwhile, he said that Obama has shifted America's decades-old policy of treating Iran like an enemy, offering them "extraordinarily generous" terms in the current nuclear negotiations.

"The flip side of this shift toward Iran is a move away from longtime allies, most notably Israel, which views the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat. The president vowed to put some 'daylight' between Washington and Jerusalem, and boy has he delivered," Boot wrote.

"His aides deride the Israeli prime minister as 'chickens' and a 'coward,' and Mr. Obama has exhibited more visceral anger at Mr. Netanyahu than he has at Vladimir Putin or Ayatollah Khamenei."

Boot conceded that Netanyahu has at times provided ammunition to Obama, particularly in addressing a joint session of Congress and declaring his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, but that it merely played into the hands of a White House already bent on painting him as "a crazed warmonger and ethnic cleanser."

"Will Mr. Obama succeed in pulling off his sweeping diplomatic realignment? He still has almost two years in office and considerable presidential prerogative to reorient foreign policy as he sees fit.

"Ironically, the biggest obstacle in his path may be the Iranian mullahs. If they reject his extraordinarily generous offer for fear of doing any deal with the Great Satan, the folly of his foreign-policy revolution will be brutally exposed."

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President Barack Obama is radically shifting America's Middle East policy, downgrading ties to Israel and Saudi Arabia while letting Iran fill the vacuum, said Max Boot.
middle east, Israel, Saudi Arabia, obama, foreign policy
532
2015-31-26
Thursday, 26 March 2015 01:31 PM
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