Former US president Barack Obama delivers a speech in Montreal. Photo:  Reuters/Dario Ayala
Former US president Barack Obama delivers a speech in Montreal. Photo: Reuters/Dario Ayala

Almost immediately from the moment Barack Obama decided to pull US troops out of Iraq, one disaster after another has overtaken the United States and its historical allies in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

A completely predictable quagmire ensued once Obama decided not to enforce his red line over chemical-weapons use in Syria – what is now the disaster of a generation, the Syrian civil war. Shiite and Sunni constituencies now make war on a regular basis and the peace the former president predicted for Syria has turned into the fear of history repeating itself.

Recently, a US-led coalition bombed a road and small bridge in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor to stop ISIS fighters retreating from the western part of the country as part of a peace agreement brokered by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant faction that is Iran’s main proxy in the Middle East and which has helped stabilize the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

The peace deal provoked justified anger from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who said, “Transferring terrorists from Qalamoun [an area on the Lebanese-Syrian border] to the Iraqi-Syrian border is worrying and an insult to the Iraqi people.”

This backstabbing by Shiite Iran of its client state Iraq has broad geopolitical implications and could be the reason firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and other top Saudi officials. This transfer of ISIS savages has also infuriated the Iraqi Kurds, since 300 jihadis have returned to the Iraqi border with 300 family members in tow, which allows movement for its fighters to continue their quest for an Islamist caliphate.

But the post-Obama chaos is not limited to the Middle East. North Korea’s missile launch over Japanese territory now have the Japanese contemplating pre-emptive strikes, nuclear first-strike capability and other offensive measures, including the United States’ THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile system.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile launch “the most serious and grave threat ever” against his country, while Seoul conducted extensive bombing drills near the North Korean border in case of an emergency, an official with the South Korean Defense Ministry told CNN.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned that the situation in North Korea had reached a “tipping point approaching a crisis” after the ballistic-missile launch over Japan. North Korea has also used bellicose rhetoric to threaten that its next target is Guam.

The policy of “strategic patience” from Obama didn’t stop North Korea from acquiring and then modernizing further nuclear weapons. Strategic patience only seemed to encourage North Korea’s belligerent behavior toward the world community.

Deferred strength instead of robust deterrence backed by traditional allies along with a growing North Korean economy have led Kim Jong-un to believe he can get away with these actions. Trump can state all he wants that “all options are on the table”, but unless he is willing to have Seoul order a total war against North Korea and possibly China as well, then he only has bad options.

As bad as the above news is, the ramifications of the former US president’s policies have reached a new low with the news coming from Iran about the so-called nuclear deal he negotiated. This could overtake the problems of North Korea and Syria to plunge the world into nuclear chaos in a few short years.

Iran is doing everything possible to dismantle the false narrative that it is a peace-loving regime by thumbing its nose at the US and other signatories to the P5+1 nuclear deal. The people of Iran want peace and engagement with the world, but not their government headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Congruent events highlight Iran’s duplicitous nature. Iranian officials rejected US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s request in August for military sites in Iran to be inspected for nuclear activity. Haley was told: “No one sees military sites without the Ayatollah’s permission.” The flawed nuclear deal supposedly included mechanisms for inspections of nuclear materials at military sites on demand, but that isn’t the case.

Obama’s post-presidency legacy will be haunted by his belief that he could trust the Iranians. Israeli intelligence has reportedly discovered  that Iran is building weapons factories in Lebanon and Syria. Israeli satellite intelligence unveiled the photos of a “construction site for an Iranian long-range missile production facility in northwestern Syria” to visiting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in late August.

Additionally, US investigators have allegedly caught Iran “shipping Iranian soldiers and proxies to Syria on commercial flights in violation of the nuclear deal”. The new photographic evidence published by a right-wing Washington think-tank purports to prove that Iran is using its flagship commercial carrier Iran Air to ferry militants, jihadis and Hezbollah fighters to Syria, where they are fighting against rebel and Western coalition forces in the region. The Trump administration is now contemplating new sanctions against Iran over this alleged violation.

Obama’s decisions could be seen to be understandable, even rational, if they had been undertaken calmly, peacefully and democratically by the majority of the US Congress when he was in office, but that wasn’t the case.

Pernicious, pseudo-political factors overcame common decency and moral law as Obama assured the world community of the fact-based, ecumenical nature of the Iran deal when it was nothing of the sort. There weren’t extenuating circumstances to make an arrangement with the Iranians necessary; sanctions were crippling them.

Obama is a historical figure but he isn’t exempt from rules or logic. What the falsehoods that this deal unveiled was a president who sent “flashy signals of superior virtue” without ever understanding the cost of leadership. Waving to adoring crowds could not stop the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps acquiring nuclear weapons.

The world and Obama himself will rue the day that will soon happen unless something is done to stop Iran from building, acquiring and possibly using nuclear weapons.

Todd Royal has a master's in public policy from Pepperdine University and has worked for Duke University. He is published by the U.S. Library of Congress on hydraulic fracturing and the geopolitical implications of expanded US oil and gas production. He is a consultant and writer on international geopolitical strategy, energy, and US state and local government.

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