On Monday, The Washington Post, after two elections covering Barack Obama with sycophantic consistency, finally fell off the bandwagon, explaining that Obama’s foreign policy was “based on a fantasy.” The Editorial Board wrote, “For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality.” It continued:
It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”
The Editorial Board noted that this was “a nice thought, and we all know what he means.” But the Editorial Board also noted that “Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping…Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people…These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion…”
The Washington Post added, “Mr. Obama is not responsible for their misbehavior. But he does, or could, play a leading role in structuring the costs and benefits they must consider before acting.”
What, exactly, switched the Post on Obama’s foreign policy? That’s unclear, but the Post sounds a good deal like the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:
We don’t want U.S. troops in Syria, and we don’t want U.S. troops in Crimea. A great power can become overextended, and if its economy falters, so will its ability to lead. None of this is simple.
But it’s also true that, as long as some leaders play by what Mr. Kerry dismisses as 19th-century rules, the United States can’t pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether.