The Obama Administration’s foreign policy has gone through three major phases in the last six years.
First came the campaign-inflected moment of soaring, post-Bush, post-power, post-everything rhetoric and personal hubris. It was a time when seemingly rational people felt that the sheer force of Barack Obama’s personality, his historic position as the first black President, and his staggering intellect would fundamentally reshape the world in his image. It was the era in which the Nobel Committee defined the Peace Prize down. Miracles and wonders awaited us; the carefully engineered hatred of George W. Bush was a great political trick, but it relied on Obama actually delivering a safer, more stable, more prosperous world.
So while this President looked away from movements for freedom in Venezuela, Iran and elsewhere, the one constant every bad actor in the world could rely on was simple: Barack Obama would withdraw American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and would lead world affairs through moral suasion, intellectual firepower, and the promise of assembling coalitions before taking action.