You know some big shifts are going on when the Washington conventional wisdom is so separated from the rest of the country. This morning the New York Times’ Peter Baker writes about Obama’s “management” of the multiple foreign policy crises, without ever once asking just why these civil conflicts are ours to manage. Think about Syria, Ukraine and Gaza. They are all essentially sectarian wars around local power struggles. This is not Hitler trying to rule the world, and yet somehow Baker assumes this is our problem to manage. Does the Chinese President wake up each morning thinking about he should manage these conflicts?
What this mindset of the U.S. as global unpaid policeman does is create the most absurd set of contradictions as even Baker acknowledges.
The crosscurrents can be dizzying. Even as Mr. Obama presses Russia to stop fomenting a virtual civil war in Ukraine, he is trying to collaborate with Moscow in a diplomatic campaign to force Iran to scale back its nuclear program. Even as he pressures Iran over its nuclear program, he finds himself on the same side as Tehran in combating a rising Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Even as he sends special forces to help squelch those insurgents, he is trying to help their putative allies against the government in Syria next door.
I have been saying for some time that the 2016 election has to confront this issue. The American people are tired of meddling in the regional disputes of the world while so many of our own people are out of work and so much needs to be done to repair our failing third world infrastructure. Even Ukraine, is essentially a European problem, as Germany, France and the UK are Russia’s biggest trading partners and the ones with the most influence over Putin. Yes we should negotiate with Iran, in concert with our allies over their nuclear program, but the idea that every civil war in the world is our problem is a dead notion that must be rethought.