Monday, October 05, 2009

Will Obama be known as the man who lost Iran, Iraq, and Afganistan?

The question "who lost China?" was asked soon after Mao kicked Chiang Kai-shek's bony rump off the mainland in 1949. Immediate popular sentiment blamed Harry Truman and the old China hands at the State Department. Republicans used China's loss as a cudgel to beat Democrats for years.

Likely, no one "lost" China (except for Kai-shek), but people were still playing the blame game when I was a child.

President Obama, though, is looking history in its bloody and unforgiving maw. After the stabilizing of Iraq under Bush, Obama's policies threaten to weaken Iraq's government so that sectarian violence again flares up. His dithering on Iran, coupled with his inability to coerce China and Russia into supporting meaningful sanctions, means that Iran will almost assuredly become the world's next nuclear power.

It's hard to blame solely Obama if Iran gets the bomb, and Iraq seems pretty sure to make continual improvements (albiet slower and bloodier than necessary), but Obama's contemplated Afgan strategy looks certain to result in the return to power of the Taliban. Should that happen, Iran's nuclear bombs and Iraq's continuing difficulties will be placed at Obama's feet -- and he can expect Rebublicans to beat him and the Democrats for years to come with that club.

History and the electorate won't look kindly on the man who muffed his biggest foreign policy challenge and lost a whole region to the bad guys. Because Obama knows this, I'm guessing that he'll send more troops but not the amount Gen. McChyrstal asked for, all while hoping to run bin Laden to ground in order to forestall criticisms from the Right

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