If we measure success by such UN standards as how many nations have agreed to these deals, Obama can congratulate himself (as he has been doing) on capping his tenure with a bonanza of foreign-policy achievements. Last December, scrapping decades of U.S. policy, he buddied up with Cuban dictator Raul Castro, which got him a historic handshake. This summer, via the long palaver of the P5+1 nuclear talks, he clinched the nuclear deal he had fervently sought with Iran; at U.S. behest this deal was adopted pronto — and unanimously — by the 15-member UN Security Council. On December 12, he got his long-pursued climate deal, the Paris Agreement passed unanimously by more than 190 states. And in the name of ending the havoc in Syria, last Friday he got a UN Security Council resolution which passed — you guessed it — unanimously, decreeing “free and fair elections” in Syria within the next 18 months.
But what did it take to produce this festival of unanimity? How does an American president arrive at all these deals, in grand concert with the regimes of Cuba, Iran, China, Russia, or, in the climate case, virtually every polity on the planet?
The answer is simple. You trade away U.S. interests at bargain-sale prices. You hold a fire sale on real U.S. global leadership. You squander U.S. credibility and security, offering concessions at such deep discounts that even Vladimir Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei cannot resist. You dismantle the principles and strategies that have long protected America and its allies, and you toss whatever remains into a global bargain bin. Deals for all!