Historian Paul Johnson‘s latest Forbes column focuses on Barack Obama’s role in reducing America’s worldwide leadership role.

ONE OF THE WEAKNESSES of the U.S. Constitution is that a President who has been repudiated in a midterm election has two more years to serve in a state of impotence.

There’s no doubt about the rejection of Mr. Obama. He played little part in the recent election because Democratic senators and congressmen whose seats were in peril refused to let him show his face in their districts. One has to go back more than half a century to find a national leader who was such a turnoff to voters.

The naturally resilient U.S. economy is in reasonably good shape and can be left to look after itself, especially since a Republican-controlled Congress will have a pro-business legislative agenda that the President won’t dare veto. On contentious matters within the control of Congress he will have to cooperate. Therefore, Obama’s lack of strength doesn’t matter much except in one vital area: his role as Commander in Chief and the head of U.S. foreign and defense policies.

Obama’s leadership in this has been so inept and mistaken that what might otherwise have been taken care of as minor problems have now begun to threaten world peace. Vladimir Putin has been allowed to emerge as a second Stalin, rebuilding the old Soviet empire with his annexation of Crimea and creating a new spirit of Russian nationalism that keeps him in power, despite the sanctions that have inflicted so much painful damage on the Russian economy.

Even more disturbing and avoidable has been the emergence in parts of Syria and Iraq of ISIS, the most successful terrorist movement in years. This is the direct result of Obama’s shameful scuttle in Iraq, which left a weak government and ill-trained army in possession of huge quantities of first-class U.S. military equipment. …

… Obama presides over what has, in effect, become a pacifist Administration and at a time when the world is slipping into some of the worst muddles and messes since the Cold War.