What he needs to do is empower a “red team” that will start at zero and challenge every foreign policy assumption. There is very little in US foreign and security policy that makes sense any more but there are huge and well-paid constituencies that exist to support the status quo – they must be challenged. Obama has been conceding the ground to all of those groups without any debate and with seemingly little resistance. ~Philip Giraldi

Mr. Giraldi’s recommendation is a good one, and his frustration with the administration’s continued cheerleading of insane NATO expansion is something I share, but this is tempered by the recognition that Obama and Biden have always favored this foolishness and Obama always concedes grounds to entrenched interests. Obama’s backing of hegemony and interventionism is something I have talked about quite a lot, and Prof. Bacevich has repeatedly pointed out Obama’s acceptance of what he has called national security ideology, so who really expected anything different at this point? Biden flew to Tbilisi to embrace the reckless demagogue Saakashvili in the immediate wake of the latter’s escalation with Russia–why would he not now embrace a slightly less reckless Ukrainian leadership that has not started a war? I agree that pushing for Ukrainian membership in NATO is crazy, but almost everything Washington has done in connection with NATO for the last two decades has been crazy.

Even if Obama were inclined to do any of the things Giraldi and I would like to see (and I don’t think he is remotely interested in most of them), he would probably destroy his Presidency inside of a year by doing just a few of them. It’s all very well to say that he should challenge the entrenched interests who are invested in perpetuating current policies, but could any President survive doing this? If not, what self-interested politician is going to take the risk? Who would reward him, and what votes are in it for him? The answers to these questions are no, no one, nobody and zero.

Obama is already routinely accused of trying to destroy Israel because he has reiterated the (meaningless) formal U.S. position on (illegal) settlements; he has never ruled out launching a war against Iran over a nuclear program that poses no threat to America, but whatever minimal caution he does show is portrayed by domestic critics as weakness and capitulation. As we can all see, despite some early constructive moves, he remains wedded to the bipartisan consensus in favor of provoking and insulting Russia for no good reason, but simply by contemplating anything other than reflexive hostility he already received much contempt here at home. More to the point, he is someone who wants to belong to the consensus view in whatever setting he is in, so of all the people who could try to break from establishment assumptions on foreign policy he is one of the most unlikely.

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