Foreign policy is something Americans care about when the economy is good, and when it isn’t they hardly notice it. It's hard to worry about what happens in the Mideast when you don’t have a job in the Midwest.
So for the next four years, most Americans won’t pay attention to what happens beyond our nation’s shores. But when they do pay attention again, they will find America in a very different place in a very different world.
So what will happen in the next four years while Americans scramble to find jobs for themselves and their kids?
- The big loser is Israel. It now has to make a choice – does it accept a practically nuclear Iran and keep President Obama’s support, or does it try to stop Iran unilaterally and risk Obama’s abandonment? Israel itself goes to the polls in a few months and this will surely be a critical issue.
- The big winner is Iran. Obama will likely make a deal with the Iranian regime. In exchange for Iran stopping just short of nuclear weapons – just one screw’s turn away – the president will drop sanctions and restore relations. It will look like a diplomatic victory for Obama personally, but what it means is in essence a nuclear Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state and can dominate the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The world’s energy security will to a great extent be in Iran’s hands.
- The big question mark is the Middle East. Do Iran’s neighbors go nuclear themselves, creating a nuclear arms race in one of the most dangerous and economically important parts of the world? Or do they accommodate Iran, and let Iran dominate the region from Iraq to Egypt?
The Arab spring nations will move into increasingly towards chaos and Islamism. They will blame Israel and the US for their economic woes. As America retreats from the region, Israel will be isolated. Another Arab Israeli war is likely.
- The place we’ll forget about is Afghanistan. That war was lost long ago and President Obama will get us out as soon as possible. I predict that the US will end up shooting our way out. The minute we leave – if not before – Afghanistan will descend into tribal ethnic civil war. But once we’re gone, we won’t even notice.
-The thing we won’t see coming is China. The Obama administration will borrow more and more money to keep expanding the US government. Eventually the countries that loan us money are going to want something for it. And our biggest foreign lender is China. As China becomes more militaristic and nationalistic, they are likely to challenge our position in the western Pacific and control of the seas. As we cut defense spending and shrink the Navy, we will defer to Chinese interests in the region.
-The greatest tragedy is our veterans and wounded Warriors. After two unsuccessful wars and an economy that doesn’t recover, we will retreat from the world and renege on our promises to our veterans and wounded warriors. That’s what happened after Vietnam, and it was a stain on the soul of America. We promised ‘never again.’ Sadly, the other claimants on the government’s resources are larger and louder than the American military. And they will be served first and likely at the military’s expense.
- The biggest change will be America's role in the world. The American economy will eventually recover, although it’s likely to be later rather than sooner. And when it does Americans will once again look past our shores. What we're likely to see an America less involved with the world, especially in the Middle East and Asia. We will no longer be the world’s sole superpower, we won't be leading from the front, we probably won't be leading from behind either. Will that be so bad? Maybe…maybe not. But it sure will be different than the way the world has been for the last 75 years. Welcome to the Obama Era.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com's "DefCon 3." She served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She was an aide to Dr. Henry Kissinger at the White House, and in 1984 Ms. McFarland wrote Secretary of Defense Weinberger's groundbreaking "Principles of War " speech. She received the Defense Department's highest civilian award for her work in the Reagan administration.