by Dr. Clifford A. Kiracofe
● The Obama Legacy of Failed Foreign Policy
● Will US Strategy and Foreign Policy Change?
● Will US strategy change with the Trumppresidency?
election of Donald Trump marks a newphase in the foreign relations of
the United States. President Barrack Obama’s legacy ischaracterized by
failure. Will Trumppoint the US ship of state in a new direction and
improve Washington’s economicstanding and foreign policy?
The Obama Legacy of Failed Foreign Policy
believe that the foreign policy legacyof president Obama is one of
failure. Tobe fair to him, his failure is not entirely personal because
it is also thefailure of the United States foreign policy elite that
An overall judgment of failure may seemharsh but a
realistic look at the consequences of US policy supports thisjudgment.
The Middle East is in chaos,Europe is destabilized by the chaos in
Ukraine, and Asia is impacted bytensions.
It is no wonder that the
internationalsituation today is in a state of transition. But it is not
the transition Washington wanted to maintain its globalhegemony and
Washington elites have not yet droppedtheir Cold War
vision of the world which arose after World War II. Back then, the
bipolar global struggle wasbetween the US led Western bloc and the
Eastern bloc. But nowadays, US elites have put forward theconcept that
today’s bipolar struggle is between the bloc of so-calleddemocratic
states and the bloc of non-democratic states.
Such a perspective
is doomed to failurebecause of the changing international system and the
evolution of a multipolarworld. Accepting diversity in thisemerging
multipolar world supports peace and development. Every country and
culture has its own characteristicsand this diversity must be respected.
The dominant bipartisan elite consensusdriving the Obama
administration foreign policy for eight years establishedtoward the end
of the George W. Bush administration. This administration plunged the
United Statesinto foreign policy failure in the Middle East and the
Obama administrationmade things worse by continuing the Bush policy.
this elite consensus is examinedcarefully, the failure of the Obama
administration is understandable. The main elements of the consensus
formed inthe waning Bush years are still the basis of US foreign policy
Will Donald Trump change the
fundamentalsof US foreign policy such as hegemonism and unnecessary
military interventionaround the world?
The failures of American
foreign policyhave been caused by an incorrect assessment of the trends
in internationalaffairs and by an incorrect national strategy. The old
Cold War strategy and the concept of competing blocs have notbeen left
behind despite changing times.
President Ronald Reagan had the
vision toend the Cold War through diplomatic negotiations with the
Soviet leader MikhailGorbachev. Fortunately, the two shared acommon
goal of promoting peace and were able to undertake successful
diplomacyto resolve differences and create the conditions for a new
But the Soviet Union underwent severechallenges
and broke into various pieces by 1991. At this point, there was no
longer a bipolarworld because the Soviet Union had disappeared.
at that time, made afundamental geopolitical mistake by not accepting
the concept of a multipolarworld. The old bipolar world was goneand the
opportunity arose to create a new peaceful international order
withinthe context of the emerging multipolar trend.
But US foreign
policy elites rejected amultipolar concept and attempted to impose a
unipolar hegemonic vision on theworld. The US did not retrench
itseconomy and take steps to strengthen its economy in the absence of
the Cold Warmilitary burden.
The Bill Clinton administration was
able toimprove the economy somewhat and refrain from major foreign
militaryinterventions and wars. This correctline led to a situation in
which the economy was in a position to realize abudget surplus in future
years rather than the deficits which had been thecase.
bright future possibility wasdestroyed by President George W. Bush and
his unnecessary military adventuresin Afghanistan and Iraq. The cost
ofthese wars is estimated to be about $5 trillion. Obama mistakenly
continued these wars and didnot terminate them promptly thus adding to
the Bush administration mistake.
Will US Strategy and Foreign Policy Change?
the past eight years, the key elementin US policy focused on
strengthening the NATO alliance and the US-Europetransatlantic
relationship. This was toattempt to maintain the global dominance of
the US and the Atlantic communityover the international
community. Transatlantic elites viewed the reemergence of Russia and the
rise ofChina as challenging Western global hegemony.
East policy of the Obamaadministration simply carried forward the Bush
regime change policy in Iraqand, with Western allies such as the United
Kingdom and France, expanded itacross the Middle East and North Africa
with catastrophic results.
As a result, we have the Syrian war,
thechaos in Libya, and the intensified spread of international extremist
Islamistterrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and other parts
of theworld. Egypt was destabilized by theObama administration’s
support of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.
North Africa and
the Saharan andsub-Saharan zones have seen increased terrorism as a
result of the regimechange policy in Libya. With the fall ofQaddafi,
new waves of terrorism in North Africa and in the region were unleashed.
Obama Middle East policy supportedextremist Islamist terrorist
organizations because they were fighting for theregime change in Syria
that Washington wanted. It is no wonder that ISIS emerged in the chaos
triggered by the US inthe region.
To confront Russia, the
Obamaadministration supported regime change in Ukraine. The concept
here was to push Western Europeaninfluence not to mention NATO closer to
the Russian border. Such a provocation was bound to elicit a
The reassertion of Russian control overCrimea was
inevitable. Increased Russianvigilance and defensive preparations were a
logical consequence of this Obamaadministration failure in Eastern
Given the rise of China, Washington’sbipartisan elite
consensus drove the Obama “pivot” to Asia. This policy is also an
extension of Cold Wargeopolitics.
When the pivot was announced
Washingtonmoved systematically. The obsolete “huband spokes” Pacific
alliance structure was to be strengthened with Japan as thekey regional
ally. Relations with thePhilippine spoke were to be
strengthened. Vietnam and Myanmar were to be drawn to Washington’s side
Broader geopolitical concept for Japan,Australia,
India, and the US was promoted to cut against China’s rise. US military
pressure in the South China Seaand harangues about the East China Sea
fall into this broader strategicvision. Included are various
air-seabattle concepts and the shift of 60 percent of US military force
to the Pacificall fueling increased tensions.