An Incompetent Empire

American foreign policy has been a mess since the end of the Cold War, which was a useful restraint on the naive and delusional in the ruling elite.The threat of nuclear annihilation forced the sober minded to keep a firm hand on the tiller. That was a long time ago and now feckless ninnies like those in the Obama administration are in charge. No one notices just how jumbled and incompetent foreign policy has been under Obama, mostly because the media ignores it, for fear people will notice the wrong things.

Syria is a perfect example of the thumbless handling of foreign policy. Russia has a long history in Syria and they have strong ties with the Iranians. That means the neocons think America should side with the Islamist rebels trying to depose Assad. This ignores the fact that Russia is there fore purely economic reasons. The Russians are not motivated by ideology. It’s pure geopolitical politics. They seek to control the flow of energy into Europe, as that gives them money, but also keeps them in Europe, which is vital to their psyche.

The alleged gas attack is a great opportunity to strike a deal with the Russians that would put some limits on Iran’s ability to cause trouble and remove support for the Jihadists, but this administration has bungled it. The only hope may be the French. They are making noises about using the recent gas attack as an excuse to intervene. That’s ironic for many reasons, but it is what it is. The opportunity was there to shame the Russians into considering some sort of brokered settlement. Instead, the US is now backing Islamists.

In a perfect world, the US is out of the region entirely and it is left to the Europeans figure out how to get oil and gas out the place. That’s not in the cards, so the next best thing is a deal where the oil and gas in the region is controlled by parties willing to keep the peace locally and do business with the West. No one really cares about the religious inclinations of the locals, just as long as it does not spill outside the region or endanger the supply of natural resources. Otherwise, the locals can live as they please.

The worst result is having a Russian puppet in charge with a massive gas pipeline from Iran into Europe. That gives the Iranians the cash to pay for Russian arms, finance lunatics and become the dominant power in the Gulf. It also would give Russia the whip hand over Europe, as they would control their energy supplies. There’s lots of room to screw it up, but it gives the wrong parties greater access to power. The French seem to get this and want to prevent it, even if it means squaring off with the Russians.

The problem, of course, is that American foreign policy is controlled by a combination of naive and possibly deranged Progressives and neoconservatives, who have a messianic vision of the future, built around Israel. The result is American foreign policy is torn between support for Muslim radicalism on anti-Western grounds and opposition to radical Islam in support of Israel. Eight years of the latter is now been followed by four years of the former. The result has been a collapse in credibility.

As Spengler put it, “As long as the United States declares its support for the humbug of Muslim democracy in Egypt and Syria, the rest of the world will treat us as hapless lunatics and go about the business of securing their own interests without us.” That may be the least worst option, as America recovers from almost two decades of incompetent managerialism. If the rest of the world figures out they are better off without out us, maybe the next President will be happy to let the rest of the world sort their own troubles.