President Barack Obama took a big gamble in recommitting U.S. forces into combat in Iraq's civil war. I think he made the right choice, and so do the American people (so far). Despite being told over and over again by pundits that they must oppose all uses of American military power because they are "war weary," ordinary Americans somehow seem to have overcome their collective fatigue to support Obama's airstrikes, albeit with obvious limits (see here and here). Those and other polls indicate that the public holds Obama's overall handling of foreign policy and Iraq in very low esteem, but they support the use of military power to confront a threat that Obama's attorney general has described as "more frightening than anything [he has] seen as attorney general."
The crisis of more than 70,000 children surging toward the United States has been partially caused by the "pull" of porous U.S. borders and signals from the United States that are close to "amnesty on arrival." But it has also been fueled by the major "push" of increasingly serious problems in three Central American countries -- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras -- that the United States must confront. To do so effectively, it needs to deploy a sustained, large, and long-term assistance and security program modeled on Plan Colombia.
In ordering the air strikes against the Islamic State (formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), President Barack Obama made a painful concession that he tried mightily to avoid.
Is the new alignment between Russia and China a threat to the United States? Aimed at further hamstringing the U.S.-led neoliberal order, the emerging relationship appears to have factored into the current entropy in U.S. foreign policy -- Moscow and Beijing have not been this close in half a century.
There comes a time in most presidencies when events force an administration to confront the contradiction between its favored strategy and the necessity of action. The Truman administration faced this when North Korea's surprise invasion of South Korea compelled the White House to rethink its focus on Europe while downgrading the American commitment to Asia. Instead, Truman ordered a major deployment of U.S. forces to liberate South Korea, which led to a residual American troop presence that continues there to this day. The Carter administration faced this when its initial strategy of conciliation towards the USSR met with Soviet defiance, culminating in the invasion of Afghanistan, and led Carter to adopt a more assertive posture and to launch a major defense buildup. We faced this in the George W. Bush administration in 2006 when our Iraq strategy of encouraging the political process while building up Iraqi forces failed to arrest a growing civil war. Instead, President Bush realized that security needed to precede political progress, which led him to announce the new counterinsurgency strategy and troop surge in January 2007.