A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Philip Gordon, who held the Middle East portfolio at the National Security Council from 2013 to 2015 (and before that, served as assistant secretary of state for European affairs) about my Atlantic article, “The Obama Doctrine.” The piece tried to explain how the president understands the world, and America’s role in it. (This week, the president is on a tour of the some of the countries he discussed in the article.)
Gordon, a loyal Obama man, is, like his ex-boss, somewhat-to-very fatalistic about the ability of the U.S. to direct the course of events in the Middle East (“realistic,” rather than “fatalistic,” is the term the president prefers). Gordon is known for, among other things, a pithy and concise formula he developed to explain why President Obama, and many of his advisers, are so hesitant to engage fully in the various catastrophes of the Middle East. In Iraq, the Gordon dictum goes, Obama learned that full-scale invasions leading to regime change don’t work; in Libya, he learned that partial interventions leading to regime collapse don’t work; and in Syria he learned that non-intervention also doesn’t work. An unspoken but obvious lesson: Once a president reaches this set of conclusions, can you blame him for wanting to pivot to Asia?
Read More- The Atlantic
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