The United States has entered a period during which
its influence in the world has significantly been reduced.
Since the conscious design of this has come from the
White House, there can be little doubt that the Obama
administration considers this a major success of its
But this circumstance could not have occurred if a
national mood of fatigue with international affairs and
military/economic interventions did not at the same time
The consequences, already set in motion, are for a reduction
of our military power, a diminished occupation with our
national defense, and a subtraction of interest in the
affairs of our neighbors and allies.
Seventy-five years ago this would have been cheered by
most in the Republican Party of that era, and resisted by
many (but not all) in the Democratic Party. Today this is
exactly reversed. Democrats seek more isolation from the
world, and many (but not all) Republicans oppose this
Since the Democrats control the White House and the U.S.
senate, there is very little that can be done until 2015 at
the earliest to effectively challenge this development, and
almost nothing that can be done to reverse it until and if
a Republican president is elected in 2016.
A foreign policy does, not, however, exist in a vacuum.
Those who disagree with President Obama have constantly
warned that a passive withdrawal from the world’s
trouble spots, and the diminution of our military
capability will only endanger our national security by
emboldening our rivals and enemies to be more and more
aggressive on the world stage. President Obama and his
supporters see it in quite an opposite way. They believe
that our withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq, the volatile
Middle East as a whole, as well as a reduction in our
relationships with many of our traditional allies in Europe
and Asia, promotes an improvement in the international
environment. Mr. Obama evidently sees our immediate
past engagement in the world to have been more of a cause
of global problems than an attempt to resolve them.
History and precedent do not support Mr. Obama’s
thesis, but he seems to be determined to press on with his
policy of disengagement. Only external and dramatic
international events might change this direction, and the
president seems confident that his world view will prevail
in spite of history and precedent.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has been pointing out
recently that the U.S. house can only delay and perhaps
partly defund the domestic programs which Republicans and
conservatives oppose. If the Republicans would regain the
U.S. senate in November, 2014, that limit and control of
domestic policy could be expanded. Nontheless, it is the
executive branch of our government which controls foreign
American public opinion is traditionally preoccupied with
the nation’s domestic economy. Only in times of danger,
threat and crisis does it focus on world affairs. Those who
now warn of dangers and threats and impending crises
are not only unheard by the policy makers in Washington,
DC, they have little resonance with most Americans in the
cities, suburbs and farms across the country.
Short of some sudden change in public opinion, the isolation
of the United States, and the reduction of its ability to affect
the course of affairs in the world, will continue.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.