President Barack Obama adopted a so-called pivot strategy that focused U.S. military assets on the Asia-Pacific region as war-time obligations in the Middle East ended with the departure from Iraq in 2011.
Robin Niblett, director of British think tank Chatham House, said Obama's "gyrations" on the conflict in Syria risks undermining that strategy.
U.N. weapons inspectors confirmed chemical weapons were used in Syria's civil war, something Obama said was a "red line" warranting a harsh response. Instead, Niblett wrote Wednesday, Obama turned to congressional leaders for authorization to carry out his own agenda.
Meanwhile, the Chinese military continues on a swift path toward modernization. Niblett said while much of the Chinese focus is on internal issues, there are national security concerns for the United States.
While Obama's reluctance to engage militarily in Syria enhances U.S. credibility in the eyes of Asian allies, the president's "ambivalence" in the Middle East may have broad repercussions.
"Being selective about U.S. political leadership in the Middle East, while trying to be more strategic in its application in Asia, will be supremely difficult for the Obama administration," Niblett said.
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