Foreign policy confusion is in part a consequence of intervening everywhere. The US can’t get its story straight. NBC’s Richard Engel, an excellent foreign policy correspondent of the Arwa Damon caliber, was on the nose when he recently said the following:
the Obama Administration’s foreign policy toward Iran … seems “convoluted” and “incoherent” at best, given the fact that the U.S. seems to be contradicting itself in its support and opposition to Iran in a number of countries.
Engel explained how the U.S. is fighting both with and against Iran in Syria, which he said is “an incredibly convoluted dynamic.” He said that while the U.S. is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, it is supporting the fight against Iran in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels recently forced out that country’s president and Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against them in retaliation.
“We’re fighting both with and against Iran in Syria, and fighting with Iran in Iraq,” Engel said. “There are many people who I’ve spoken to — many in the military, many policy analysts — who say that what we’re seeing here is an incoherent policy regarding not just Iran, but regarding the Middle East in general.”
Engel also said many in the military were “taken by surprise” when Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen because they did not “consult extensively” with the U.S. military.
“Senior officials who would have been expected to know that there was going to be an operation in Yemen, they didn’t,” Engel added. “They were finding out about it almost in real time.”
About one thing Engel is wrong: US foreign policy is not newly “incoherent” and “convoluted” since Barack Obama. Did the CIA not back a coup in 1953 against Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Prime Minister of Iran, even though he was democratically elected? Did we not back the Mujaheddin against Russia in Afghanistan, before the former morphed into the Taliban and al-Qaida? Did George Bush’s puppet government in Iraq not turn to its coreligionists in Iran soon after it was ensconced? Are our people and diplomats not under frequent attack (such as in South Korea, Okinawa, on and on), due to blowback over the perception that the US bestrides the world like an arrogant colossus?