Joe Scarborough asks a compelling question about the state of U.S. foreign policy.
How did it get so messed up?
The one-time Republican congressman from Florida wonders how the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power can get in such a muddled mess.
I think I have a partial answer. Or perhaps just some food for thought: The end of the Cold War.
Geopolitical relationships have gotten incredibly complex since the days when the Soviet Union sought to control the world and the United States kept pushing back the Big Ol’ Bear.
Our adversary was a clearly defined nuclear power. It covered 8 million or so square miles of territory across two continents. They were fearsome. Then again, so were we.
Then the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989. Two years later, the Evil Empire imploded.
Just like that, our Enemy No. 1 was gone.
In its place a lot of other enemies have arisen to rivet our attention. Scarborough thinks two American presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have presided over this turmoil. Granted, the Soviet Union disappeared on George H.W. Bush’s watch and his successor, Bill Clinton, managed to keep the assortment of new enemies at bay.
Here’s part of what Scarborough writes: “Bush’s ideological foreign policy was tragically followed by Obama’s delusional belief that America could erase the sins of the Bush-Cheney era by simply abdicating the U.S.’s role as indispensable nation.”
I am not certain anyone quite yet is capable of juggling so many balls at the same time. President Bush took dead aim at al-Qaeda immediately after 9/11, but then expanded that effort into a war against Iraq. Then came Barack Obama — and the world has just kept on getting more unstable.
But we still haven’t yet figured out how to manage crises that keep cropping up throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. The result has been, as Scarborough notes, a vast explosion of crises involving ISIL, Syria, Turkey, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria … and even Venezuela in our own hemisphere. Let’s not forget North Korea and the immigration crisis emanating from Latin America.
We’ve got to keep our eyes on many balls all at once.