To begin with, let me review the Nixon doctrine, which was announced in 1969 when President Nixon to Vietnamize the war. In those days, opinion leaders around the world talked about American decline, and even cast doubts whether the United States would continue to be the anchor of global stability. As Obama does today, Nixon delivered a message to placate anxiety of the post-American
Shortly after Nixon announced his doctrine, he assisted the Shah’s Iran to ascend to the Guard of the Gulf. This is typically illustrated in his generous and prompt support to build up the Imperial Iranian Air Force. In the early 1970s, Iran was plagued by the Soviet invasion to its airspace. Particularly, MiG-25s flew so fast that even IIAF F-4s were unable to intercept them, and Iran was at the mercy of Soviet air reconnaissance those days. Iran was desperately in need of advanced fighters to shut out the Soviet Air Force from its sovereign territory. Therefore Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi met President Nixon at Andrews Air Force base near Washington DC in July 1973. Nixon invited the Shah to see the flight demonstration there to select either F-14 or F-15 for Iranian air defense, whichever he preferred. The Shah chose F-14 without hesitation, as soon as the show ended (“Thirty minutes to choose your fighter jet: how the Shah of Iranchose the F-14 Tomcat over the F-15 Eagle”; Aviationist; February 11, 2013).
After returning home, the Shah ordered 30 F-14s in January next year, and subsequent 50 of them in June, along with AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. The Nixon administration acted so promptly that Iran received the first F-14s in January 1976, while the United States provided intensive trainings for Iranian pilots (“Grumman F-14 Tomcat#Iran”; Wikipedia). The result of this was spectacular. IIAF F-14 shot down a drone in a test firing of
In view of the above historical comparison, Obama’s remark to step down from the world policeman is extremely imprudent. Unlike Nixon, Obama has no reliable partner in the Middle East to cede America’s responsibility for regional security. Particularly, his poorly devised policy on Iraq deepens regional instability furthermore, as typically seen in the rise of ISIS. While Nixon helped the Shah’s Iran grow strong enough to police the region, Obama withdrew from Iraq without reconstructing its security forces. The Iraqi Air Force was virtually nonexistent as Saddam Hussein let his flight squadrons fled to Iran when the Gulf War broke out to avoid war damages, and the rest of them were destroyed in the Iraq War. Therefore, it was a prerequisite to rebuild Iraq’s air strike capability to conclude the security
For this objective, Iraq decided to purchase F-16 fighters and Apache attack helicopters. The Maliki administration began to consider purchasing F-16s at the end of the Bush era (“Iraq Seeks F-16 Fighters”
AH-64 Apache helicopter is another air strike arsenal that Iraq asked the United States to sell. However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez raised critical concerns with human rights that
Those failures have made Iraq vulnerable not only against ISIS, but also against Iran. The Obama administration solicits Iran to work together to fight against ISIS, while holding tough negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Moreover, Iran has been a troublesome actor in Iraq as its influence penetrates there through Shiites in the south. Now, the Iraqi government is increasingly dependent on Shiite militia. Obama may think anti-ISIS partnership with Iran temporary, but that poses long term negative effect to Iraqi security. Iran still supports the Assad administration in Syria. Also, Shiite militias want to displace Sunni people. The only way to overcome such sectarian chasm is founding a solid security force of the central government incorporating all ethnic and religious backgrounds (“The U.S.
As a key ally to the United States in Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government sees ISIS threats were relatively contained as a result of coalition air raid, but critically alarmed with Iranian penetration through Shiite militias. Among those militias, Asaib Ahl Haq and the Badr militias are vital threats to the Kurds as they are closely connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Ever since America took over the hegemony from Britain, its preeminence repeats upturns and downturns. Historical backgrounds of Nixon and Obama are quite similar, but policy responses are so starkly different. Obama is throwing away the responsibility of the world policeman and pivoting to Asia without any preparation. So many commentators talk about a superficial decline of the United States, but what really matters is the quality of leadership. Unlike Nixon, Obama has no vision of foreign policy. While the Shah had mutual trust with Nixon and Ford, neither Maliki nor Abadi trusts Obama so much. Nixon had Henry Kissinger, but Obama has no reliable foreign policy advisors. I believe that historical comparison between both presidents will be of much implication to American foreign policy today.