Three years ago, President Barack Obama set forth to recast American foreign policy in an image of his own design. It was one in which the White House engaged with enemies and undercut allies, apologized for American exceptionalism, and favored the “soft power” of treaties and international organizations. This “Obama Doctrine” was tailor made to burnish America’s supposedly flagging reputation on the world stage. Today we are seeing the disastrous results of a doctrine gone wrong.

The Middle East is a logical starting point of this Obama Doctrine retrospective, a region where the President’s soaring aspirations have been mugged by the reality on the ground. Beginning in Iran, Obama sought to engage a regime led by a man who has openly called for the destruction of Israel. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not mollified by the President’s charm offensive, and now, even in the face of escalating sanctions, Iran is ratcheting up its rhetoric, threatening to cut off a quarter of the world’s energy supply, and marching toward a nuclear weapon. The Obama Administration’s response? An admonishment of Israel for considering a strike against the murderous Iranian regime.

Syria, too, is yet another example of the Obama Doctrine failure. The President entered office hoping to engage the hostile regime of Bashar al-Assad and soft-pedaled its criticism of Assad’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. The result? Syria ordered the attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus, threatened the U.S. ambassador, and to date has killed more than 7,500 Syrians who are standing against the autocratic government.

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