President Obama recently sat down for a long, wide-ranging interview with Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’ premier columnist and multiple Pulitzer Prize winner. It was supposed to be an elevated discussion between two intellectuals about the weighty foreign policy issues not just of the day, but of the modern era. Obama kept referring to broad, sweeping words of wisdom – the deal with Iran is a “once in a lifetime” chance. He hinted at a similar deal with Cuba.

Sadly, we have seen that the alternative to American leadership isn’t world peace, but rising regional hegemony – or even worse, chaos. China, Russia, Iran and the Islamic State don’t want to play by our rules. They want to kick over the global chessboard and establish their own rules.

And he announced, “You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

Sadly, we have seen that the alternative to American leadership isn’t world peace, but rising regional hegemony – or even worse, chaos. China, Russia, Iran and the Islamic State don’t want to play by our rules. They want to kick over the global chessboard and establish their own rules.

It was vintage Obama – vague, but important sounding. It could mean whatever you wanted it to mean. Anyone could read into it what he wanted. It would mean all things to all people. It was a Rorschach test: How you interpreted it depended more on what you thought than what he said. It was complete gobbledygook.

The Obama administration has spent six years in search of a doctrine worthy of the Chosen One. At first it was “Leading from Behind.” But that didn’t work, because rather than take our cue, others rushed to fill the void created by our withdrawal from the front of the pack.

Then it was “don’t do stupid stuff.” But the administration kept doing stupid stuff, like the premature withdrawal from Iraq that gave birth to ISIS, or the Libyan war that left the country in jihadi chaos, or the decision to blame the Benghazi terrorist attacks on an obscure YouTube video.

More recently, the Obama administration claimed its doctrine was “strategic patience” and made references to the great arc of history bending in our direction. But that’s like saying – even though the world seems to be “exploding all over,” to quote former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel – don’t worry, everything will turn out well in the end. It’s basing America’s national security on “fingers crossed.”

The president talks in every speech about the “global community” and the “rules-based international community.” He puts his faith in the creation of new entities based on common interests and shared values to deal with everything from governing the Internet to global warming. He believes that if America takes a step back, other nations will step forward and planetary kumbaya will ensue. 

Sadly, we have seen that the alternative to American leadership isn’t world peace, but rising regional hegemonies – or even worse, chaos. China, Russia, Iran and the Islamic State don’t want to play by our rules. They want to kick over the global chessboard and establish their own rules.

Previous attempts at an Obama Doctrine had come from White House aides or Cabinet officers, but in his interview with Friedman Obama himself took a turn at defining the Obama Doctrine. Doubtless, it was focus-group tested and designed to offend the fewest people. It sounds like we want to stay involved in world affairs, but not expend too much effort. It’s so vacuous, it’s meaningless.

Compare this to James Monroe’s doctrine that great powers should stay out of our hemisphere, or Theodore Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick,” or Ronald Reagan’s Peace through Strength. Those were unambiguous. They made clear that we did not seek war, but we would remain strong enough to defend ourselves if necessary.

President Obama is about to get his nuclear deal with Iran, which he believes will be the crowning achievement of his historic, transformational presidency. Yet wise and respected diplomats like former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, who are no strangers to historic treaties, have warned that the agreement will not do what he has promised. Instead of preventing a nuclear arms race, it will have the opposite effect, and nuclear weapons will spread throughout the Middle East.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are in search of greatness. The president will sign an agreement with Iran on behalf of the United States but without the concurrence of its elected representatives. In effect, that allows Iran to get nuclear weapons and ignites a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Presumably, the president believes that if he grants Iran this right, its leaders will have a sudden change of heart on their terrorist ways, stop chanting “death to America” and abandon their goal of “annihilating Israel.”

But if he is wrong, he has just bet America’s security, and the world’s, on an agreement that can neither be adequately verified nor successfully enforced with a handful of messianic mullahs who are convinced they’ve been chosen to rule the world.

If so, others will write the Obama Doctrine, and it won’t be pretty. President Obama will be known as the man who allowed nuclear weapons into the Middle East in exchange for one vainglorious moment. 

In 1938 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain traveled to Munich to sign a pact with Adolph Hitler. Chamberlain returned to London to cheers, parades and congratulations, declaring he had achieved “peace in our time.” A year later, however, the very war he’d been seeking to avoid had begun. Chamberlain’s naiveté and appeasement policy were blamed for one of the world’s most devastating and destructive wars. The threats we face today are even more ominous -- Hitler never got his hands on nuclear weapons.

If, in a few years, the Middle East is awash in nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction, the likelihood they will be used will go up exponentially – whether they’re used intentionally, accidentally or even inadvertently. If so, the blame will fall squarely on Obama’s shoulders. Chamberlain’s capitulation and folly will look minor compared to his.

Then we will finally have an explanation of the Obama Doctrine. President Obama’s legacy will not be “peace in our time.” It will be introducing nuclear weapons into the most unstable and dangerous part of the planet into the hands of people who will not hesitate to use them. 

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