During a recent Senate hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry said he would take the blame for any failures of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, all the while denying American foreign policy was “spinning out of control.” The administration’s approach to foreign policy—leading from behind—has been an abject failure. It is time for the administration to enact policies that will protect the strategic interests of the U.S., project strength and resolve abroad, and convince allies and adversaries alike that America can be still counted on to lead.
Responding to a suggestion from Senator John McCain (R–Ariz.) that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have failed, and that it was time for Kerry to face reality, the secretary of state defended the administration’s efforts and said he was to blame for any failures:
Sure we may fail, you want to dump it on me, I may fail. I don’t care, it’s worth doing, it’s worth the effort, and the United States has a responsibility to lead.
Under President Obama, however, the United States has not led. Indeed, in nearly every region of the globe, the United States’ position has deteriorated. On the Middle East peace talks, for example, Kerry recently offered the release of a convicted Israeli spy in the U.S. as a bargaining chip to salvage a flawed peace process that has become more of a legacy obsession for Kerry rather than an opportunity to shape a strong, coherent policy.
In regards to Syria, Kerry himself reportedly privately admitted the administration’s policy has failed—charges he publicly denies.
Furthermore, U.S. policy toward Russia and Eastern Europe has been one of disengagement and weakness. Following Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, it is clear that the Russian reset is dead, a fact recently acknowledged by architect of the reset. The U.S. needs a new strategic policy toward Russia, one based on reality, not wishful thinking. Even New START, hailed by Kerry as the one success of the Russian reset, has only strengthened Russia while weakening the United States.
From an empty Pacific pivot to weakness in Latin America and the Middle East, the Obama doctrine has failed spectacularly.
Speaking at the hearing, Idaho Senator James Risch (R–Idaho) told Kerry “You can’t help but get the impression that our foreign policy is just spinning out of control, and we’re losing control in virtually every area we’re trying to do something in.” McCain echoed these comments when he stated “On the major issues, the administration is failing very badly.”
Risch and McCain are right: the Obama doctrine has crashed and burned. While Kerry may want credit for effort, no amount of wishful thinking will yield positive results until the U.S. decides to lead—and not from behind.