Being president can be a b*tch.
Barack Obama is in charge of the world's most consequential superpower (when you combine economic might and military force) at a time when the world seems to be cracking up more than usual. A Malaysian airliner is shot down -- presumably by Russian-armed separatists in Ukraine. The too-extreme-for-Al-Qaeda Islamic State, a Sunni force once allied with Washington-backed Syrian rebels fighting the Russian-supported Assad regime, has taken control of a swath of territory in Syria and Iraq and set up an Islamic fundamentalist state that is waging war against the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq, which is supported by Russia-allied Iran and Washington. Meanwhile, US-backed Israel has sent military forces into Gaza to quash Hamas, a Sunni-dominated outfit that receives support from Shiite Iran (a US foe) and Sunni Saudi Arabia (a US ally). And at the same time, the United States -- as part of the P5+1, which includes Russia, China, England, France, and Germany (a key trading partner of Iran and a US ally that is pissed off at Washington for spying on it) -- is trying to arrange the extension of nuclear talks with Iran, as the negotiations hit the deadline. Obviously, the United States needs Russia -- which Obama just hit with tougher sanctions (before Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was blasted out of the sky) -- to lean on Iran for these talks to succeed.
And there's a humanitarian crisis ongoing at the US-Mexico border.
None of these matters are easily resolved--and many are interlinked. Should Obama declare a new Cold War against Russia? That could impede reaching a deal with Iran. As he supports the Israeli military action in Gaza -- while decrying civilian casualties caused by Israeli strikes -- he further bolsters the United States' association with Tel Aviv, which arguably undermines US credibility, standing, and influence in an increasingly troubled region. Does he provide the authoritarian and inept regime in Iraq with military assistance that could end up in the hands of Iranian fighters supporting Baghdad -- and further strengthen Iranian influence in Iraq, which freaks out Saudi Arabia?
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