There is a debate in the United States, in some quarters, about whether the Obama foreign policy is or has been a success. Critics point to Syria, and even to Afghanistan and Iraq, both legacies from the Bush administration, as well as the re-set with Russia, and even the "pivot" to Asia, as signs that Obama has been ineffective in the area in which he is supposed to have most competence and training.
There is an American fixation on WINNING as if some prize, like the capture of Osama Bin Ladin, in their cultural hunt for the trophy, demonstrates success. There is no success in avoiding conflict; there is no success in having steered the American ship of state through quite troubled waters, both on the economic front and on the world stage, without incurring serious disaster, in a very turbulent (some say more turbulent and unsettled) world than we have experienced for decades.
Americans also simply resist any attempt to encourage them, both individually and nationally, to look within, collectively, to examine the precepts that drive them. While there is a very loud and acrimonious debate in the political arena, between opposing ideologies, corporate/capitalist/militarist versus middle class/disarmament/and equality, some of the cultural archetypes that freeze the perceptions of American identity, limit both sides from seeing or considering a different way of doing business....and it is business that is currently guiding the American enterprise, certainly not looking to participate in the establishment of a new world order that does not worship trophies and profits.
Obama was handed one of the most complex set of issues to face an American president, on both domestic and foreign fronts, in decades. His efforts, while not perfect, as he would most readily agree, far outstrip those of the Bush/Cheney administration (hardly a valid comparison given its bungling on virtually every front except perhaps the AIDS initiative in Africa). His administration has been able not only to bring health care to millions who previously had no hope of such coverage, but has worked with all other western allies in imposing severe sanctions on Iran which most agree has brought her to the table to negotiate on nuclear energy, while balancing the American response to the Middle East uprisings, the final outcome of which is still unwritten. He has also pushed to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have been frozen in vacillation for decades, although there is no sign of movement on that front.
Ukraine poses a significant diplomatic and foreign policy issue for the west, given NATO's and the E
EU's approchment with other former Russian satellites, and Putin's desire to return Russia to a former, and likely non-repeatable glory. Working "with" allies, and not grabbing the guns or the missiles or the bombs whenever a crisis erupts, is so counter-intuitive to the American history that Obama is colouring "outside the box" and will be found wanting by those whose picture of "success" includes the domination of any problem that America and the world can or will face.
We are quietly literally appalled by the consistent debasing of the Obama adminstration's efforts to continue to forge new agreements on important issues, like nuclear proliferation, like climate change, and like a more stable world economy, including a more equitable distribution of the national income as a model for other countries to emulate.
And we can only hope that it is the American cultural archetypes that are slowly and permanently thawing from warmonger to collaborator, from military activism and trophy-victories to agreements with sanctions and carrots that are the only way to maintain stability in the international order.