Over the years, President Obama has been criticized and praised — but mainly praised — for lacking a driving foreign policy ideology. It seemed to be one of the “childish things” he promised to set aside as he launched his presidency in 2009. America’s conduct in the world would be characterized by outreach, consultation, flexibility and a prudent recognition of limits.
Now comes the prospect of a nuclear deal with Iran, forcing a revised assessment from future presidential historians.
Obama is contemplating what Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute calls “a revolution in the conception of America’s role in the region.” Since the Carter administration — which saw the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Iranian revolution — U.S. presidents have pledged to prevent any hostile power from controlling the Persian Gulf. A series of alliances and relationships were established and maintained — sometimes with difficult or shady partners — to enforce the Carter Doctrine.