President Barack Obama is back at the United Nations this week, but the more peaceful world he saw emerging just a year ago is looking like a distant, even naive, dream.
“We’ve also worked to end a decade of war … shifting away from a perpetual war footing,” Obama told the U.N. delegates and fellow heads of state last September. “The world is more stable than it was five years ago.”
Just in the past few months, the rise of the brutal Islamic State terrorist group has lured the U.S. back into military action in the Mideast, Russia has annexed part of Ukraine and a deadly virus has rampaged across Africa, killing thousands and threatening to bring down governments there.
In each crisis, Obama has been faulted for dithering while the situation grew worse and turning aside opportunities to act in the hope of assembling an international response that has so far proved inadequate.
“He’s in a much worse position, without a doubt, than a year ago. … You’ve got a world on fire,” said former Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “The presidency is all about managing disorder and unruliness and managing perceptions so that the world’s not seen as being in chaos. He’s not been able to convey a strategy for dealing for all this, so I think it’s much grimmer for him a year later.”