This is a common critique of Obama’s foreign policy: that he evades hard decisions, that he is allergic to military force if it risks American casualties or escalation, that there is often a mismatch between his words and his deeds. “This is a pattern,” one retired four-star general said. “He issues stern warnings, then does nothing. It damages American credibility.”
Is the charge true? And to the extent that it has some validity, how much can be laid at Obama’s feet, and how much should be attributed to the intractability of the problems he has faced? Would a different sort of president have handled the decade’s challenges better, and if so, how?