In the broad scheme of things, this administration's job has been, and remains, to extricate this declining power (yes, that's us -- the ever-so-powerful U.S.) from imperial overstretch. The world has moved on; we don't run it. We live in it, among other peoples, many of whom are on their way to their own special glories and challenges.
When Lynch says "the White House knows," he is exaggerating. U.S. politicians aren't allowed to "know" the real constraints within which their country is operating. They must run a con game (usually even on themselves), either promising glorious triumph over the enemies of the moment or deflecting attention from challenges while managing intractable realities. The current set in power -- we hope -- is an ascendancy of the second type.
As has been the case throughout our history, the U.S. people have to interject themselves into this charade. Though we enjoy chest thumping and the violence of American football, we, usually, don't much like wars if forced to notice them. We don't want our own getting killed in faraway places. We learn, over and over, that, as that tough old bird General Smedley Butler concluded: "War is a racket."
Politicians are always surprised when we notice the wars of empire. But despite occasional outbursts of xenophobia, at root "we just want to get along." Can the White House keep that in mind? It is never easy.