I would dispute that. As a lifelong poker player, I almost always fold a bad hand. Bluffing works best when you almost never do it. Then, people who have called you in the past have learned that your cards are always strong when they try you. At that point you can get one over on them from time to time. The small cost of losing the ante now and then by folding weak hands preserves your ability to win a pot when it matters, later on, with a weak hand.
Wretchard's point is that America gambled a lot on Obama and has lost. With Obama at the head of the table, not only America but everyone -- allies and enemies alike -- have lost so much that they can no longer afford to play.
Kerry is probably accurate in saying of Syria that "there is no military solution to this conflict" because no one is strong enough to emerge the victor. The failed Obama gambit drained so much energy from international system that it cannot rebuild order yet paradoxically left more than enough fuel to burn what was left.A new world order may not emerge. We may see a collapse of world order, and the rise of local hegemonies. The one power that has gained in the last year is Iran. It is going to be richer and stronger, even as it tears down other oil-producing powers by flooding the market with crude. Iran is likely to emerge the leader of the Middle East's northern crescent, from Afghanistan to the Levant.
The ruined cities of Homs or Aleppo may come to perfectly symbolize the current predicament, examples of once bustling places now without the wherewithal to rebuild yet with more than enough to destroy. Like the militias in those agonized cities the post WW2 Security Council members are no longer strong enough to pursue an independent strategy. They will be forced into a constantly shifting constellation of coalitions each competing and cooperating with the other to ensure survival and acquire gains.
Russia may pair off in its facile way with first one partner then another. Turkey will play the same duplicitous game, only more duplicitously, as will China. And Europe will do what is necessary to survive. In both the international and domestic political spheres, -- betrayal and counterbetrayal -- will become the rule rather than the exception. And this will continue until a new order emerges.
Russia, just because it is weak and on the verge of crisis, will expand again. The one way for a weakened power to enrich itself is by stealing. Europe is too weak to resist. The next expansion will probably be in the Baltics, and aimed at breaking NATO by proving its treaty guarantees are worthless. Russia may wish to prove that first with Turkey, where the stakes are lower and the NATO power much less sympathetic. The Turkish government, openly Islamist, deceitful, and murderous, does not deserve our support.
China is likely to be consumed with its own problems for some time, and not to look too far abroad for a while.
And Syria, as a real front and not just a metaphor? It is a massacre, a war being waged by clearing the land of people because it is easier to rule over an empty waste. The Russians have only doubled-down on Assad's policy of destroying civilian infrastructure. The Iranian-backed militias are as bad as ISIS, who are backed by our allies the Turks. The West will do nothing to stop it, not for a year at least, if indeed we ever do.