The problem, of course, is that Obama never had a Plan B. He never really thought he’d need one, and besides, he never much cared about foreign policy.
Particularly in his first term, his top priority was to keep international problems from distracting his domestic agenda. He ordered the surge in Afghanistan but then went silent about that war for years. He passive-aggressively let a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq evaporate. Even his controversial policies — targeted killing, drones, etc. — were intended to turn the war on terrorism into a no-drama technocratic affair out of the headlines.
And the killing of Osama Bin Laden, his greatest foreign-policy accomplishment (I’m using “his” advisedly), was almost immediately translated into an argument about domestic priorities.
“We obviously think that if there is a takeaway from it,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained in the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s assassination, “it is the resolve [Obama] has, the focus he brings to bear on long-term objectives, that he keeps pushing to get it done. On immigration reform he keeps pushing…” Blah, blah, blah. For a verbal pirouette, Carney’s segue had all the subtlety of Chris Farley in a tutu.