Every year has a beginning, and whatever has a beginning, has an end. Today is the last day of 20116, the year of the unthinkable. What will 2017 bring?
President Obama has tried his best to change several trajectories upon which the US has sailing when he became President in 2009. One of the more controversial was his “leading from behind” foreign policy.
After having inherited poorly thought through strategies, such as nation building in Afghanistan and regime change in Iraq, President Obama apparently concluded that, if given the chance, the State Department would employ military force in any and all foreign policy issues, and the Military (Defense Department) would gladly fight in any theater as the willing enforcer for State Department policy. After 8 years with President George W Bush, State and Defense thought there was not a world situation not amenable to the salvation of military force.
President Obama, on the other hand, could not find logical, fact based arguments supporting continued military investment in the Middle East and seriously questioned continuing any presence in Afghanistan. When the Arab Spring occurred, President Obama resisted intervention in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria.
Tunisia formed a new government with relatively minor collateral problems. Libya incurred NATO air intervention resulting in the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi. The Libya regime change has been rocky and still pits rival tribes against each other, and each of them against ISIS-type insurgents. Syria regrettably disintegrated into an all out civil war and produced millions of displaced persons and civilian deaths. At this point it appears Bashar Assad will retain power and hopes for a Syrian regime change will evaporate.
President-elect Trump has voiced the idea of “Peace Through Strength”. No more leading from behind. These are thinly disguised words harkening back to the Bush era where the neoconservative, chicken hawks gladly dispatch other American’s sons and daughters to armed conflicts.
These sweetly flavored words promise a peaceful American life by keeping the world’s thugs off our doorsteps. If the world were only that simple.
President Trump will experience the same “tell him what he wants to hear” briefings from the Intelligence Agencies and State Department. And as it should, the Defense Department will develop plans to achieve what it is asked.
President Obama learned to question toughly what each agency or department recommended. The open question is “WWDD”?