And now, what would be Obama’s foreign policy?

Published 06.11.2014 02:16

Mid-term elections have been held in the U.S. for seats in the House of Representatives and Senate. Democrats have seen a resounding victory of Republicans who now control both houses of Congress. The Republican swing is not a historical exception as the last three two-term presidents - Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - all served their last two years with the opposing party controlling both houses of Congress.

And the party controlling the White House has lost seats in the House in midterm elections every time since World War II except on two occasions. All this is understandable. What is definitely less understandable is why the Obama administration has been so thoroughly rejected. The U.S. economy is recovering just fine, unemployment is going down and for the first time a large social security net - the famous Obamacare - is being implemented in a country where social security has always been a real problem.

President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, creating an immense hope for a better world. Coming after the disastrous neocon administration of George W. Bush, his policies were expected to be "new" and different. Even before really starting his presidency, Obama has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, to show how deeply hopes were invested in him. His personal charisma and rhetoric played also an important role reinforcing his image. Being of African descent, he also visually represented a "new era," which was at arm's reach, he was adamant to say: "Yes, we can."

The U.S. definitely remains stronger than ever, we cannot talk about a decline. Their self-sufficiency in energy resources and the use of shale gas has created an even stronger economy, to the detriment of oil exporting foes like Russia and Iran. However, since the end of the Cold War regional actors and dynamics have grown up so rapidly that the U.S. is not dictating any "pax Americana" as before.

This does not mean at all that European powers, or Turkey, are capable of dictating new policies in their region without the help of the U.S. The best example is Syria. When it became evident that Bashar Assad was using chemical weapons against the civilian population to tame the uprising, President François Hollande of France and Turkey's then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were about to wage a punitive action against Syrian government forces. At the last moment, Obama refrained from taking action, leaving both France and Turkey incapable of undertaking a military operation. This has left the Syrian democratic opposition totally vulnerable to Assad's forces and they have been decimated. The revolt is now in the hands of a dreadful terrorist organisation, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and it is only now that the U.S. uses its military force, albeit parsimoniously, against ISIS positions.

The "democratic camp" after World War II has bloomed under the military security umbrella of the U.S., basically leaving military expenditures and initiatives largely to the Americans. Now the U.S. is willing to leave more initiative to its allies for regional conflicts, and this just does not work.

The seeming "failure" of Obama's term mainly derives from the fact that the visible malfunctioning of the system is imputed to his management. It is not really true, however people vote upon their "perception" of reality rather than reality itself. Perhaps this rebuke by voters will incite the Obama administration to take a stronger stance in the Middle East. However, this looks far-fetched at the moment.

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