U.S. Foreign Policy: The Shackles of Geopolitics

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During the last decade of war, we've all heard a lot (and read a lot, and seen a lot) of very angry statements issued about our presidents and their foreign policy. When liberals look at George W. Bush they see an idiot. When conservatives ponder the policies of Obama they envision a downward slide into socialism. But I fail to see a significant difference between the two.

Take a look at Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the troops have not been called home by Obama as promised during his presidential campaign. In Afghanistan, the fighting has intensified. I wholly expect that several years from now, the troops will be pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan - and relocated somewhere else overseas. Strategically, we have achieved our goal in Iraq. And that goal was chaos. But more on that later.

The thing that always gets me is when people compare Obama to Bush as if Bush were some sort of half-brained joker who couldn't find his ass with both hands and a flashlight. Newsflash: no one becomes the most powerful man in the world by being an idiot. People can fantasize all day long about how they would do so much better if they were the President. However, those people aren't running the country.

When it comes to foreign policy, there's usually very little choice involved. To put it another way:

Q: if you played me in a friendly game of chess, how many opening moves would you have?

A: Twenty.

Q: If you're Bobby Fischer and you're playing opposite Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chamionship, how many opening moves do you really have?

A: One.

It's the same way with foreign policy. We like to think out leaders have a lot options when they really don’t. During the Cold war, a lot of Dems hated that we spent so much money on foreign policy, and a lot of Reps thought it was a waste because we never actually squared off with the USSR. Everyone felt something of a loss. But containment of the USSR was the only option we had. We didn't have enough resources to invade and occupy all of the Soviet Union, and we certainly couldn't let them trounce Western Europe.

Iraq is the same way. We couldn't just hand Saddam Hussein parts of Iran and Turkey, but we couldn't let either of those countries rebuild the Ottoman empire, either. Our only goal in the Middle East was to cause enough instability that no legitimate threat to the U.S. would appear or resurface. So far we've done just that. However, other countries have taken advantage of our position in the Middle East (that means you, Russia) and in the future, will continue to use that advantage against us. And when another legitimate threat presents itself, the U.S. will react the only way it can. Again.