Lee Smith: The End of Pax Americana: Obama’s ‘Accomplishment’

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Lee Smith writes: The United States, President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last week, “worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries.” Presumably, the president was not referring to his deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent agreement that the White House has marketed as the only alternative to war with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.

“Once you seize a position by force, as the Russians have. you are in the diplomatic driver’s seat. Putin is schooling the U.S. foreign policy establishment in foreign affairs. He has put his armed forces not at the service of Bashar al-Assad, but at the service of Russian interests.”

— Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University

Rather, it seems he was referring to the post-World War II period, when the United States created and presided over an international order that prevented an even larger, potentially nuclear, conflict with the Soviet Union. Now, that Pax Americana may be ending.

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Not with a bang, but with Obama

Indeed, Russia’s airstrikes against CIA-vetted Syrian rebels last week looked like a punctuation mark. When the secretary of state holds a joint press conference with Moscow’s foreign minister after Russia has decimated American proxies bearing American arms, we are not witnessing anything like a return to the Cold War. Rather, we’re witnessing a new order being born. It is an order that is being designed by others, without any concern for American interests.

Syrian refugees wait to cross into Turkey at the border on Monday near the town of Suruc, Turkey, which has been overwhelmed as thousands flee to escape a militant advance.G Getty Images

Syrian refugees wait to cross into Turkey at the border on Monday near the town of Suruc, Turkey, which has been overwhelmed as thousands flee to escape a militant advance.G Getty Images

“At what point does the Syrian conflict create political instability in places like Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states in the Persian Gulf? As long as nothing is happening to block the oil flow, it’s the refugee flow that makes Syria an international issue.”

— Walter Russell Mead, professor of foreign policy and humanities at Bard College

Its cradle is not the conference rooms of the U.N., but the killing fields of Syria. After four and a half years, the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis it has spawned threaten to disrupt two zones of American vital interest, the Persian Gulf and Europe.

[Read the full text here, at The Weekly Standard]

America’s Cold War prosperity depended on our ability to trade with the rest of the world across both oceans. The United States built a powerful blue-water navy and far-flung bases as tokens of our willingness to protect our allies and stand up to their, and our, adversaries. What facilitates both trade and the movement of a military as large as America’s is access to affordable sources of energy, which is why the security of the Persian Gulf has been a vital American interest for 70 years.

“There already is a third world war underway. It’s the war between Sunnis and Shiites. It’s a world war because it engages people all around the world who happen to be Muslims.”

— Angelo Codevilla

The nuclear agreement with Iran signals that Obama doesn’t see things this way. From his perspective, no core American interest would be threatened by either the domination of the Gulf by revolutionary Iran or the likelihood that other regional powers will go nuclear. The JCPOA told American partners in the Middle East that the old alliance system was finished. Israel and Saudi Arabia would get stiff-armed, and Iran would get to call plays in the huddle. What Obama sought, as he said in a New Yorker interview, was a “new geopolitical equilibrium.”

Vladimir Putin understood Obama’s rhetoric and actions as confirmation of what he’d already surmised. Putin showed NATO to be a paper tiger when he moved against Georgia, then ordered a Russian crew based in Syria to shoot down a jet flown by NATO member Turkey, then annexed Crimea, to little response. In July, the JCPOA opened the way for Russian and Iranian cooperation in Syria. The Americans, Putin understood, had no stomach for a fight. But the White House may have helped create the conditions for a conflict much larger than the war already underway in Syria, a conflict that could someday force the United States to defend its vital interests…..(read more)

Source: The Weekly Standard



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