Attempting to cling desperately to its position as the world’s superpower, the United States appears to have never been so isolationist in its foreign policy, or to have faced such a credibility gap.
What it preaches and what it practices are two very different things and this discrepancy is threatening to completely undermine its standing in the international community.
Since George W. Bush’s blind failures in Iraq, an invasion based on an assumption, the ramifications of which are still being keenly felt 11 years later, with daily death tolls showing no signs of abating, American foreign policy has continued to clumsily plod along. The U.S.’s response, from Syria to the Ukraine, has revealed the country to be disinterested at best and self-motivated at worst.
Most recently, on the so-called Middle East peace process, the Obama administration has appeared especially weak and out of touch. Seemingly unable to broker even a road map for peace, Secretary of State John Kerry has wasted thousands of air miles getting nowhere. After months of blindly supporting Israel’s position, he admitted late Tuesday that it was in fact the decision not to release the last batch of Palestinian prisoners, as was promised, and the announcement of 700 new settler homes in East Jerusalem which led to this most recent collapse of talks. Squeals of displeasure from Israel ensued, but what else will be achieved? Will the U.S. now punish Israel for this disruption? Unlikely.
This is not an administration with a sense of the very values which it stresses are so lacking in its enemies. But even if these principles were to arrive in the White House tomorrow, it would still take decades to undo the damage being done through U.S. foreign policy failings.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 10, 2014, on page 7.