If one were so inclined, one could imagine that the relentless barrage of domestic scandals plaguing Obama have been orchestrated with a simple reason: to divert attention from the worst US foreign policy in four decades. And sure enough, even a casual glimpse of all the raging international crises, in which the US is currently embroiled, is enough to make one wonder if the next global crisis will be fought not in the capital markets but in the actual battlefield. As the WSJ recounts, "a convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe, from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South China Sea, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama's foreign policy and reflecting a world in which U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous. The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn't been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam."
In the past month alone, the U.S. has faced twin civil wars in Iraq and Syria, renewed fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, an electoral crisis in Afghanistan and ethnic strife on the edge of Russia, in Ukraine.
Off center stage, but high on the minds of U.S. officials, are growing fears that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program could collapse this month, and that China is intensifying its territorial claims in East Asia.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), in a CNN interview Sunday, said the world is "in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime." Many of the seeds of instability in the Middle East have taken root since the upheaval that followed the Sept. 11 terror attacks. At the same time, post-Cold War shifts are continuing as superpower influence has receded.
The developments have fueled debate over the Obama foreign-policy doctrine, which the president said in a May speech at West Point would rely on U.S. leadership, but not troop deployments.
Some more pointing out the obvious:
The president's critics in Washington, as well as some diplomats abroad, believe Mr. Obama's policies have fueled today's conflicts. They cite his decision to pull back from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his rejection of a more decisive U.S. and allied role in the Syrian civil war, and what they see as his reluctance to provide greater support to American allies in Asia and Europe as they face down the newly aggressive foreign polices of China, Iran and President Vladimir Putin's Russia.
"I think our country acting like such a paper tiger to the world on this and so many other fronts is doing incredible long-term damage to our nation," said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) at a hearing last week on Ukraine. "And I do hope at some point the administration will actually follow through on the things that it continues to tout publicly."
The chaos has meant that the Obama administration finds itself in the middle of a second term reacting to rather than directing world events. Dangers for the president and for the U.S. are growing as militant groups gain greater control. The organization known as the Islamic State, which now holds parts of Iraq and Syria, poses a particular danger.
"If they are able to consolidate their gains in that area, I think it's just a matter of time before they start looking outward and start looking at the West and at the United States in particular," Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday in an ABC News interview. "So this is something that we have to get on top of and get on top of now."
The biggest culprit for Obama's ruinous outside reign: completely confusion.
Many Middle East leaders also have said Mr. Obama has been too reluctant to use force, which has emboldened terrorist groups and rogue states. They cite the president's failure last year to follow through on a threat to strike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime after it allegedly used chemical weapons on its political opponents.
Of course, with John Kerry in charge of policy, is anyone surprised? Still, he does report to Obama, and one would assume that despite the president "knowing nothing" about any of the domestic scandals he has faced in the past year, he can find the world on a map...
In some cases, U.S. allies are complicating matters. European countries have balked at imposing tough new sanctions on Russia, according to U.S. officials. And divisions between South Korea and Japan have undermined U.S. efforts to present a united front against China.
Some foreign diplomats believe the Middle East is weathering a historic intra-Islamic feud between its Sunni and Shiite sects that no outside power could significantly affect and that is undermining the very structure of the region's nation states.
There is a growing skepticism in Asia about whether the U.S. would abide by its commitment to defend Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries if their territorial disputes with China escalate into conflict, according to Asian diplomats. Messrs. Obama and Kerry have worked to assure Japan and South Korea that Washington remains wholly committed to its defense treaties. But even some security analysts who are close to the White House say the Obama administration's perceived hesitancy in responding to international threats is unnerving U.S. allies in the region.
"Our allies are looking for a quarterback to call some plays here, and our body language sometimes doesn't show that we're doing that," said Brian Katulis of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "Obama's always been a look-before-you-leap guy. And I think that leads to some of the confusion here at home, but also abroad."
Although to be honest, not all is a disaster: Obama has shown that when it comes to spying on his closest European ally, he is indeed second to none. The only problem is that said information would have been better used outside the public domain.
So what does Obama do to mitigate the disastrous image he portrays to global leaders everywhere?
Obama golfing at the TPC in Potomac with Michael Wilbon.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 12, 2014
... He golfs.