COMMENTARY | The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone has an interesting insight. The American public is holding two contradictory beliefs about world affairs. This illustrates the folly of having a poll driven foreign policy.
On the one hand Americans have become increasingly isolationist. They don’t want America to be the world’s policeman. They want America to stay home and mind its own business.
On the other hand Americans are shocked and outrage at the chaos going on in the world and really wishes that Obama would do something about it. They give the president very poor marks for his foreign policy performance.
Partly because of the first polling data and partly because of his own inclination, Obama has been following a more isolationist foreign policy. He withdraw entirely from Iraq and seems bent on doing the same in Afghanistan. He “led from behind” in Libya and has refused to do much of anything in Syria, the Ukraine, and in Iran concerning that country’s nuclear program. He has followed a policy that slights America’s friends and rewards her enemies.
A real American leader might have chosen to keep the United States more engaged in the world, albeit perhaps with a little more forbearance than his predecessor. There would have been a status of forces agreement in Iraq, which would have kept that country relatively peaceful. The United States would have supported and armed pro-western rebels in Syria. The Iranian mullahs and Vladimir Putin would have been made to know that the United States is not a country to be trifled with and would have acted accordingly.
In that alternate scenario, say a Mitt Romney presidency, the world would have been a safer place mainly because Officer Sam was on the beat. People may not like America to be the world’s policeman, but they like even less a world without a policeman. For better or ill, the United States is the only country that can do the job.