Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora (the following is only part of a dialogue with one of the other respondents).
The different policies of the different presidents make it appear as if it would, theoretically, be possible for the US to get a winning streak and find just the right president to make major progress toward shaping a foreign policy that would make America proud and keep us out of war.
Unfortunately, the US is hardwired into policies that are not of the public’s making or of any president’s making. (I had written about this at Quora:
This circumstance makes the policies of different presidents look erratic, both between different presidents and, often, within the same administration.
You could compare the apparently erratic US foreign policy with the course of a sailboat that is tacking to sail against the wind. Pretend that common sense and the natural interests of the American people toward economic, social and technological progress and world peace and harmony with other nations, is the head wind that the Establishment (or Deep State or Elite or whatever you want to call that supra-governmental cabal that keeps Americans under its heel at all times) needs to overcome. The Establishment cabal is doing exactly what a good sailor does when he or she wants to travel upwind or in any direction roughly against the wind. It’s called tacking and it entails first setting the sail and rudder so as to take the craft crosswise against the wind but in a somewhat forward direction, say, to the left of a straight line heading in the desired direction, then shifting the sail and rudder so that the boat travels slantwise to the right but also in the general forward direction. If this is done judiciously, the net result will be to head the boat in the desired direction but against the wind. If the boat were viewed from a high enough vantage point, the observer would not even notice the leftward and rightward shifts away from the straight line. The boat would appear to be going straight toward its destination.
For the sake of simplicity, let us compare Obama and Trump, two seemingly diametrically opposed presidents heading in two apparently different directions. You need to understand that the different directions of these 2 men are an illusion, even if the public, and each one of them, considers each one unique and independent. In the grand scheme of things, they are tacking against the wind and moving forward in the same direction against the head winds of common sense and natural interests of the American people. The left and right tilts, respectively, of the two men do not affect the outcomes of their foreign policies in the long run because someone else is pulling the strings.
Now I have said before at Quora (https://www.quora.com/Is-China-a...) that no politician or other official in the US is working for the US or to further the interests of the American people. Generally speaking we can say, in terms of foreign policy, that, aside from the arms manufacturers, they are working for the Saudis and Israel, which despite minor differences, both have a common denominator, namely, the desire to create targeted chaos in the Muslim World, for the purpose of achieving roughly the same end. For Saudi, the ultimate goal is a uniformly Sunni, and specifically Wahhabi (Salafist), Muslim World where Shariah law prevails and where Christianity is eliminated. For Israel the goal is to gain more territory, particularly in the surrounding Shiite countries. Recall that Israel is already squatting on Palestinian land and part of the Golan Heights, and Trump is obliging Israel by pretending to have the authority to grant the latter Syrian land to Israel. He not only does not have this authority, but the UN, the EU and the Arab League are protesting vociferously this brash decision. (Note that, in the case of Saudi and the Gulf statelets, the policies of the royals do not necessarily match those of the grassroots in those countries, which is a major weakness of these countries and could potentially cause uncontrollable uprisings).
Obama engaged in something euphemistically called the War on Terror, which he picked up from GW Bush. I say euphemistic because the real goal for both Bush and Obama was to overthrow Basher al-Assad as president of Syria while simply pretending to control terrorists, while in fact the terrorists played the essential role of pressuring Assad and his troops. Therefore, since they were intentionally dragging their feet, neither Bush nor Obama made any real progress in defeating ISIS or al-Qaeda from 2001 when Bush declared the War on Terror, until the Russians entered Syria in September 2015. Before that, in the background, they were helping the Saudis and Gulf statelets to train, arm and fund these terrorists under new names that we can call rebrandings. There was Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, al-Nusra, Sufian al-Thawry Brigade and others, all of which generally shared the Salafist (Wahhabi) ideology that demanded vengeance against non-Wahhabists, eg, Shiites, Christians, Yazidis, etc) simply for adhering to the wrong religions. The Land of the Free, whose constitution protected freedom of religion and forbade any favoritism toward any one religion, was actively supporting Wahhabism, the most intolerant and violent religion in the world, with its military, which according to the same constitution, was to be reserved for protection of the American people and their interests. It was beyond outrageous but the people said nothing in protest.
Obama clearly was doing Saudi’s bidding when he had his fighter jets stand down as those miles-long rows of white Toyota trucks poured into Syria from Iraq. They knew they were safe from the US, which was a de facto ally. At Deir Ezzor, the most oil-rich province in Syria, Obama’s air force killed around 100 Syrian soldiers who were engaged in fighting ISIS. Then, in the Trump era, an unknown number of Russian mercenaries, estimated at around 100 – also engaged against ISIS – were killed in this same province, and then a series of “mistakes” were made by US forces that killed both civilians and US-backed fighters such as Kurds, for example, on Oct 2018. The Kurds were engaged against ISIS at the time and were scared off by this attack, which killed several of them, as reported here: https://www.independent.ng/isis-.... The result was that ISIS took about 700 civilian hostages—a huge setback for the Syrian people. The phony War on Terror became only phonier under Trump (though to his credit, he actually has started killing ISIS terrorists these days).
Obama may be the only president who actually acted clearly against the general will of the Establishment cabal when he arranged for the famous “Iran deal,” an amazing feat since Israelis and Saudis both are intent on opposing Iran and both political parties are intent on pleasing their foreign bosses and the arms lobbies. Without his minority status Obama couldn’t have pulled it off. But later, Trump’s campaign made it clear that he intended to prevent the Iranians from getting food and medicine (by means of sanctions on Iran and any country doing business with it) and possibly provoke a war in the process.
In this, Obama was opposing the Establishment while Trump was pleasing them (even as his brain-dead followers believed he was opposing the Deep State (which was in reality the Establishment, which can’t get enough war). The net result was to please Israel and Saudi by keeping the pressure on Iran. One president bucked the current but the next made up for it.
Just another quick example: while a semi-alert analyst might think that Trump’s policies would be the antithesis of Bush’s because during Trump’s campaign, he had criticized Bush’s decision to invade Iraq based on unfounded charges of WMDs. But in fact, Venezuela is Trump’s Iraq and an economic crisis due in large part to US measures imposed for years (as I described here on Quora: https://www.quora.com/Should-the...) is Trump’s WMDs. Just another pretext for war. The details have changed but not the general policy of keeping the war machine running.
Of course, the specifics are different, making it look like these presidents’ policies were dissimilar. But the truth is, they were the same policies with the same goals and desired outcomes that were quite pleasing to their arms lobbyist, Israeli and Saudi bosses, who desire not only benefits for themselves but also are happy to see resources claimed by the US as part of the spoils belonging to the Israel-Saudi-US alliance. More power to one means more power to all.
The spoiler here is Russia, which is expected to be the new leader of a reorganized OPEC. In a shocking unprecedented move, Saudi oil minister Khaled al-Falih has already warned the US to back off of its sanctions against Russia (as reported here: http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/K...). This has portentous implications for the US, which now no longer can count as heavily on Saudi to prop up the US dollar. Though no one knows what is coming next, Saudi could, for example, bolt at any time and start accepting the yuan, the rouble or other currency as tender for its oil trade.
This could turn the financial and energy world completely upside down.