Although Thanksgiving has since come and gone, it is still beneficial to think about what we are thankful for as we head in to the Christmas season. For me, one of the several things I am thankful for is that President Obama is another year closer to leaving the White House – and taking his garbage heap of a foreign policy with him.
Amnesty International recently released a report revealing that “much [of] ISIS munitions comes from stockpiles captured from U.S.-allied Iraqi military.” As if we had learned nothing fromOperation Fast and Furious, this latest news coming out of Syria and Iraq continues to demonstrate how our current president might be the most hopeless foreign policymaker this country has ever seen. This is not even the first instance of ISIS flaunting American-made weapons and military machinery. As NBC notes, “the United States has supplied Iraq with hundreds of millions of dollars in military hardware – including Humvees. Iraq’s government said in June that it lost 2,300 Humvees to ISIS when the militants seized the city of Mosul.”
What makes these events so frustrating is less that the US has essentially armed ISIS with rifles, Humvees, and other military equipment, but that this could have largely been prevented. It is possible that the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake (in retrospect – the decision making at the time was so reasonable that even Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton supported it). However, the Bush Administration was facing an entirely new threat front an entirely new enemy. History had no lessons for George W. Bush and Congress at the time. The same cannot be said for President Obama.
Despite the failure of Operation Fast and Furious and the better part of a decade of experience with occupying countries in the Middle East, President Obama made the decision to pull soldiers out prematurely despite warnings that doing so would be a mistake. To make matters worse, when it became clear that this decision was indeed a mistake, President Obama tried todownplay his role in it, distancing himself from his own actions by saying that it was not really ‘his decision’ after all.
As his seventh year at the helm comes to a close, I struggle to find any examples of Obama-led foreign policy victories. The Syrian Civil War has been a complete disaster ever since a certain red line was crossed, a line put forward by the President, and the President did nothing about it. Russia has successfully paraded its forces into Crimea without any substantial punishment or retaliation. ISIS, and radical Islamic terrorism in general, has become more powerful and has even found sympathizers within the United States. China has become more ambitious with its projects in the western hemisphere, amassing a greater influence in Latin America. And just this year, to top this list off, the nuclear deal with Iran has brought the Obama administration’s foreign policy to an all time low.
With the 2016 elections quickly approaching, I find it hard to imagine how any president – Republican or Democratic – will clean up the mess left by President Obama. Needless to say, it will be a real struggle, and I wish our next commander-in-chief a whole lot of luck.