Navigating the Post–Obama World

    Stuart Gottlieb

    Security, Americas

    U.S. President Barack Obama checks to see if he still needs the umbrella held by a U.S. Marine to protect him from the rain during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 16, 2013.

    The big question now is: will the Trump presidency be a bridge toward a more positive or negative recalibration of America’s role in the world.

    What if there was a major Palestinian uprising and nobody came? In the seventy years since the founding of the state of Israel, it has been the standard operating procedure for any Israel-Palestinian clash to be met with swift condemnation (and sometimes outright conflict) by the Arab states, and a wave of international outrage against Israel, typically by the United Nations.

    However, following last month’s massive protest in Gaza against Israel’s border fence, in which dozens of Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded, the loudest voices of condemnation seemed to come from American pundits and politicians eager to blame the violence on Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Arab League and UN? Not so much. Aside from the usual criticism of Israel’s use of “excessive force”, there were few complaints about Israel by the Arab countries, and certainly nothing to match the degree of America’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s defense of Israel and condemnation of Hamas.

    Now, Americans can— and should— place Mr. Trump’s Middle East policy, along with all of his other policies, under intense scrutiny. After all, he is a political and policy amateur, who oozes recklessness in his private and public lives.  But the U.S. also has to ask itself: how did we get here? Not just with Donald Trump as president, but also with the world he bestrides so seemingly upside down. Pick any region of the world, and odds are it’s wrestling with strange new challenges – from hydrogen bombs on the Korean Peninsula to the refugee crisis (and related populism) in Europe, to ISIS offensives in Afghanistan, and to Arab states sitting idly by while Jerusalem becomes permanently Jewish.

    The world is, of course, a complicated place. And no single American president can get all the credit or blame for the inevitable ups and downs of world affairs. But there is just no denying that the foreign policy program of the prior Obama administration, despite its best of intentions, has played a crucial, and often decisive, role in today’s global upheavals.

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