The disastrous state of American foreign policy is one of the least talked about legacies of the Obama Administration. But that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t paying attention. Indeed, a new Gallup poll finds that for the first time in his presidency, a majority of Americans believe that President Obama is not respected by world leaders.
Given the utter debacle that is the United State’s involvement in Syria it is easy to understand American’s growing frustration. From a foreign policy perspective, President Obama’s shifting red-lines, coupled with Secretary of State John Kerry’s contradictory rambling about the U.S.’s intentions made us look weak and indecisive. That view seemed to be confirmed when an ad-libbed line by Kerry about the Assad regime turning over all its chemical weapons suddenly turned into serious foreign policy.
Tactically things haven’t been much better. The White House’s constantly shifting messages to the Syrian opposition groups was demoralizing and may actually create a vacuum that will be filled with radical Islamists. As Michael Weizz wrote for Politico Magazine:
Almost comically, Washington has gone, in the last two and a half years, from demanding of an atomized but fairly moderate collection of Syrian rebels that they lower their expectations in exchange for a minimal level of badly needed material support to demanding of a well-organized group of hardline Islamist rebels that they lower their expectations in exchange for minimal levels of totally unnecessary support. To whom is this an intelligent or wise policy?
And now, with the Syrian civil war shuffled off to the back pages of newspapers, the fiasco rolls on. Recently, we learned that Syria and Russia—the Assad ally who all-too-happily volunteered to aid in the removal of his chemical weapons stash—are failing to live up to their timelines. As Josh Rogin reported for the Daily Beast:
Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.
Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding.
Kerry’s closed-door concerns seem to be backed up by the Syrian government itself. In statements made by Angela Kane, the top disarmament official at the United Nations, she said that Syria has requested another postponement in exporting its stockpile of chemical weapons. Reports indicate that Syria is also balking at the notion of destroying its chemical weapons production facilities, proposing instead to render them inactive.
That’s just not good enough. Obama’s response, or lack thereof, is just not good enough. And if the Gallup poll is any indication, the American people are getting tired of it.