by Bill O’Grady
Over the past three years, we have witnessed what appears to be a steady erosion of American power. Russia annexed the Crimea and has encouraged a rebellion in eastern Ukraine, undermining the sovereignty of a European nation. This apparent invasion was considered by Western observers to be the first hostile acquisition of territory since WWII.
The breakdown in the Middle East has become another problem. The U.S. allowed the Arab Spring to unfold with little interference; to some extent, the administration encouraged the developments. The U.S. took a secondary role when intervening in Libya, allowing France and Britain to lead operations. That action has devolved into a disaster; Libya stands divided as various ethnic and sectarian groups fight for control. Syria has become a major problem as well. The administration has pressed for the removal of Syrian President Assad but hasn’t created conditions to foster his exit. The decision not to bomb Syria after Assad used chemical weapons, a self-proclaimed “red line” by President Obama, further gave the impression of disengagement.
Russia’s recent decision to send military equipment and personnel to Syria suggests that Putin is filling a power vacuum in the region. Sunni allies in the region are becoming increasingly concerned that the U.S. is not going to continue to play the role of outside stabilizer in the region.
Yet, the Obama administration recently announced that it would send U.S. Naval vessels within 12 miles of the artificial islands that China is building in the South China Sea. Although military advisors have been pushing for such incursions for some time, the president’s decision to take this rather aggressive step is in direct contrast to the passive response seen in other areas of the world.
In this report, we will examine President Obama’s foreign policy, using the construct of Ian Bremmer’s recent book, Superpower. After discussing President Obama’s foreign policy and the potential effects, we will examine how the next president may shift from the current policy. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
 Bremmer, Ian. (2015). Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing, Random House.