When he entered the White House in 2009, Barack Obama had grand ambitions in foreign policy. He planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, build a better relationship with Russia, broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and offer a hand of friendship to Iran and the Muslim world.
Six years later, the president, and the rest of us, are sadder but wiser. American troops are still in Afghanistan and back in Iraq, although in much smaller numbers and not in ground combat. The “reset” with Russia and prospects for peace in the Middle East are little more than wistful memories.
So when the White House published the second-term edition of its national security strategy last week, one of its goals was simply to catch up with those new realities, and to reassert that the United States has no choice but to stay engaged.