Does the Syria crisis show that the United States under Barack Obama has begun a historic retrenchment back to North America? For Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, columnist Antoine Courban warns Europe that if it fails to fill the vacuum of American withdrawal, it will end up being what geography intended before the rise of ancient Rome: ‘an extension – a peninsula – of Eurasia.’
For L’Orient Le Jour, Antoine Courban starts off this way:
What an earthquake! The Syrian regime uses chemical weapons against its own people. U.S. President Barack Obama takes a stand, deploying his armada to the Mediterranean. It was as if we were reliving a remake of the Cuban missile crisis in reverse. And then, a huge surprise – the American president gives in, backs down and resorts to a diplomatic solution that allows him to get out of the Syrian wasps’ nest that he obviously doesn’t like. In spite of crimes against humanity, in spite of violations of the most basic and fundamental principles of our world – those the West have always wanted to protect – the American president’s gesture was perceived as that of a Caesar Augustus who no longer wants to be absolute master of Rome, but prefers to remain village chief.
Neo-isolationism or a major revision of strategic options? The future will tell. Nevertheless, President Obama’s attitude is a seismic shock to the world, the effects of which will continue to be felt for decades to come.
Has Obama climbed down vis-à-vis Putin as Khrushchev did in regard to Kennedy in 1962? It’s not altogether clear. Already, after his famous Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, the best-informed onlookers noticed the double danger underpinning Obama’s vision: a certain anti-imperial leftism lined with consensual and pacifist communitarianism. All the arguments of his speech suggested that the world’s problems amount to a family feud among Abraham’s heirs – Jews, Christians and Muslims. He called for a reconciliation of Abrahamic monotheism as the basis for a new era of world peace. It is clear that when it comes to the greatest military power in history, such considerations are largely insufficient as a basis for clear strategy.
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