Having shunned foreign intervention in the run-up to the election -- even to tip the scales in Syria -- the president may believe he was elected to pursue a policy of "disengagement." Certainly he has shown a visceral dislike for open-ended, long-term commitments of U.S. boots on the ground in the Middle East, as has been seen in Iraq and probably Afghanistan. But the reluctance to engage more directly in Libya or at all in Syria, where ground troops were never the issue, could point to a larger concern about any military engagement beyond drones and special forces -- anywhere, for any reason, in the broader Middle East.
As someone who has spent decades involved in less-than-happy foreign adventures -- from Vietnam to the Middle East -- I am inclined to sympathize with critics who argue that ensuring our status as the global "indispensable power" is too militaristic, economically unsustainable, and ignorant of real problems, such as the ascension of China and other rivals.
But I'm not quite ready to join the retro-1960s march to peace, love, and isolationism.