In remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 President Barack Obama, beginning the process reducing the global role of the United States and thereby dismantling what had for decades been a bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy, said:
In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.
Alas, Russia did not get the memo.
In a column headlined "Russia Rises," Charles Krauthammer explains how "a passive U.S. foreign policy has allowed belligerent rivals to gather strength." You've probably seen reports of alarming actions by BFFs Russian and Iran:
This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The State Department pretended not to be surprised. It should be. It should be alarmed. Iran’s intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now.
The reordering of the Middle East is proceeding apace. Where for 40 years the U.S.–Egypt alliance anchored the region, a Russia–Iran condominium is now dictating events. That’s what you get after eight years of U.S. retrenchment and withdrawal. That’s what results from the nuclear deal with Iran, the evacuation of Iraq, and utter U.S. immobility on Syria.
Recent developments in Iran can especially be attributed to the Obama foreign "policy:"
The nuclear deal was supposed to begin a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Instead, it has solidified a strategic-military alliance between Moscow and Tehran. With the lifting of sanctions and the normalizing of Iran’s international relations, Russia rushed in with major deals, including the shipment of S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russian use of Iranian bases now marks a new level of cooperation and joint power projection.
Putin did not share the president's belief that no nation should be dominant:
Consider what Putin has achieved. Dealt a very weak hand — a rump Russian state, shorn of empire and saddled with a backward economy and a rusting military — he has restored Russia to great-power status. Reduced to irrelevance in the 1990s, it is now a force to be reckoned with.
. . .
And in a gratuitous flaunting of its newly expanded reach, Russia will be conducting joint naval exercises with China in the South China Sea, in obvious support of Beijing’s territorial claims and illegal military bases.
Yet the president shows little concern. He is too smart not to understand geopolitics; he simply doesn’t care. In part because his priorities are domestic. In part because he thinks we lack clean hands and thus the moral standing to continue to play international arbiter.
And in part because he’s convinced that in the long run it doesn’t matter. Fluctuations in great-power relations are inherently ephemeral. For a man who sees a moral arc in the universe bending inexorably toward justice, calculations of raw realpolitik are 20th-century thinking — primitive, obsolete, the obsession of small minds.
So many of President Obama's brave new world plans (ObamaCare is another) seem not to have survived even he eight years in which he has been president. But reality has not entirely intruded: the president's first-term partner in these policies has a pretty good chance of succeeding him.