People blame the new horrors in Iraq on the American-led invasion in 2003. But the exact reason why the country is in civil war today is because the Americans are not there. If US troops were still present, the fanatical ISIS, the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”, would not have swept through the north of the country and now be threatening Baghdad.
The US constitution forbids the President to have more than two terms in office. This may be a valuable restraint on power, but it also means that any two-term president stops governing quite soon after his re-election. Instead he tries to secure his “legacy”. The more he thinks about this, the more it trickles away.
Barack Obama had a legacy earlier than any other American president. He was the first black president before he was even inaugurated. Very shortly after that, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. From the start, he was supposed to go down in history as “the Peace President”. This has all turned into a tremendous disadvantage.
Mr Obama was right about the need to change tone after the presidency of George W Bush. Some of the fierce antagonisms of the Bush era dissolved in his rhetoric. Europeans, in particular, felt what it said on the poster – “Hope”. But in the Muslim world, the people who were bitterly anti-American for reasons way beyond the invasion of Iraq were not converted or even appeased. Nor did anti-Western wolves like Vladimir Putin want to lie down with the new American lamb. They watched and waited to see what Mr Obama would do.
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