Some ardent supporters of the president contend virtually all criticism of his foreign policy is unfair, partisan or both. Granted, some of the criticism has been tough and even scathing.
On the lack of a coherent foreign policy:
The Obama administration initially waffled over the Arab Spring, unable to decide whether and when to support the status quo and when to support the protesters. The United States used military force to help oust Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, but insisted at first that this wasn’t the purpose of the airstrikes — and without any clear rationale being articulated, the use of force in seemingly parallel situations seems to have been ruled out. The administration expresses support for the rule of law, but hasn’t offered a coherent legal framework justifying the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists inside the territory of other sovereign states. (I’m not saying there’s no possible justification — just that none has been clearly articulated). In Afghanistan, the Obama team first embraced an expansive, counter-insurgency-oriented approach to the nearly decade-old conflict — then shifted, a mere two years later, into “last guy out turns out the lights” mode.
On refusal to act in Syria:
For all the temptation to hide behind the decision to invade Iraq based on faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, Obama must realize the tremendous damage he will do to the United States and to his legacy if he fails to act. He should understand the deep and lasting damage done when the gap between words and deeds becomes too great to ignore, when those who wield power are exposed as not saying what they mean or meaning what they say.
The distrust, cynicism and hatred with which the United States is regarded in much of the world, particularly among Muslims across the Middle East and North Africa, is already a cancer. Standing by while [Bashar al-]Assad gasses his people will guarantee that, whatever else Obama may achieve, he will be remembered as a president who proclaimed a new beginning with the Muslim world but presided over a deadly chapter in the same old story.
On politicizing Afghanistan:
[T]he president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics. Their primary concern was how any action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been reshaped to accommodate partisan political concerns.
These are all critiques issued by former Obama officials. (In order: Rosa Brooks, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Vali Nasr.) If Democrats don’t believe them, or acknowledge the dismal results of over four years of Obama’s policies (Russian reset renounced, the “peace process” entirely collapsed, Iran’s nuclear weapons program going ahead, chemical weapons use and 70,000 dead in Syria, etc.), will anything shake their delusion as to the president’s foreign policy competence?