Obama leaves world guessing on U.S. intentions

By Michael Gerson

Washington Post

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

The largest failure of Obama's approach to the Middle East is its apparent geopolitical randomness. Support for Iran's Green Revolution was late and grudging — as though courageous reformers were intruding on Obama's engagement of the regime. The president dramatically escalated the Afghan War, before conveying an impression of heading for the exits. After wringing its hands, the administration took needed action in Libya. After wringing its hands, it has remained on the sidelines in Syria. The main consistency has been the wringing part.

In the absence of an organizing principle, flexibility becomes ambiguity. Other nations know exactly what Iran is after, what Russia is after, what Israel is after. They are left to guess at American intentions. The risk is that they will cease to care.

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