The most devastating reproach historians are likely to make to Barack Obama’s record in the White House is his devastating failure in foreign policy — a failure that stems from his willingness to leave the warrior ideologues of the State and Defense Departments in place after he became president.

To them he added ideologues of a new and equally interventionist persuasion, which he found congenial: that of humanitarian action, scarcely relevant in resisting the Islamic caliphate that emerged as a major force in the concluding half of his second term. By then he also faced a Republican congressional majority distinguished by its ignorance — worse than his own in foreign policy matters — and its vindictiveness.

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