the State of Foreign Entanglements au courant.
Three top cats in Daemoneoconia gave up their assessments of 44 so far
Madame VP Foreign and Defense Policy @AEI.
short analysis of 44's successes and failures in foreign policy must
necessarily be incomplete. Is it enough to weigh his undeniable good judgment
in ordering Navy SEALS to take out Osama bin Laden against his vacillation when
faced with the Arab Spring? His willingness to face reality vis-à-vis Iran
versus his paralyzing missteps in promoting Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?
at the heart of what must, by the standards the president set for himself, be
judged a failure, is what seems to be 44's worst sin: The president's
foreign policy lacks a guiding set of principles. Why surge troops into
Afghanistan only to draw them down before the mission is complete? Why condemn
Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya for his crimes against his own people and remain
almost indifferent to the same crimes when committed by Bashar al-Assad in
Syria? Why knock off a dozen al Qaeda terrorists from the air, and release
another group from Guantánamo?
answer, of course, is politics. Politics matters to any sane politician; but
when politics suffers no competition from principle, the nation's foreign
policy is rudderless. It is
why our allies mistrust us, our adversaries underestimate us, and why we no
longer seek to shape a better world, but instead to retreat from it.
Exec Director @ FPI
As 44 seeks reelection, he will likely tout the country's
counterterrorism successes under his watch and, in a sop to his base, his
ending of the war in Iraq and his efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan.
Although voters in 2012 will be focused primarily on the state of the economy,
they should consider who is best suited to defend the country and advance
America's interests as commander chief when choosing whether to reelect 44 or bring in 45.
44th admin does have achievements to point to in the war against al
Qaeda and affiliated groups -- the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy
SEALs chief among them. But the war on terror must remain a focus for the next
president, whoever it is. 44, by deemphasizing the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan in favor of deniable covert efforts, has put the country at risk of
being drawn back into both theaters because of his unwillingness to finish the
job begun by his predecessor.
too is the situation with rogue regimes that threaten America and its allies. The
West's confrontation with Iran is nearing a critical juncture as Iran
approaches a nuclear weapons capability. Syria, Iran's closest ally, is wracked
by what many observers now describe as a civil war. The broader Middle East is
in turmoil in the wake of last year's momentous developments. North Korea, under the new leadership of Kim
Jong Un, still challenges the stability of East Asia.
rising and resurgent powers such as China and Russia continue to undermine
American interests. 44 has rightfully begun to devote more American
diplomatic and military attention to Asia to deal with China's rise, but has
pursued a wrongheaded "reset" policy with Russia that does not reflect the true
nature of the Russian government, now facing its own popular uprising. On each
of these issues, the 44th admin has refused to take assertive action,
instead managing on the margins.
his first three years in office, 44 has made several correct tactical
decisions, but he seems to lack an appreciation of America's unique role in the
world and a coherent vision for the use of U.S. power and influence. What the
country needs from its next president is a leader who can shape world events
rather than be shaped by them. There is little to indicate that this is 44's interest or aptitude.
Senior Cat @ Brookings Institution
the accomplishment side of the ledger, credit 44 with a very smart
policy in Asia. By taking advantage of China overplaying its hand in the South
China Sea and generally unnerving most of the region, 44's administration has
reconfirmed the central role of the United States in East Asia. The opening of
a new base in Australia is a powerful symbol of America's enduring strategic
presence in the region. The opening with Burma obviously has both strategic
motives and strategic implications.
also has a fairly good record in responding to the Arab Awakening. 44's
administration has fortunately ignored the "realists'" call for standing by the
collapsing dictatorships in the Middle East. (How people can call themselves "realists"
when advocating such hopelessly unrealistic policies is a source of
wonderment.) In Egypt, especially, while the reaction to events has sometimes
been slow, the administration has generally moved in the right direction. 44
deserves particular credit for not joining in the general panic at the
electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood. The operation in Libya was a
success. The growing international pressure on Basha al-Assad in Syria is
encouraging -- but eventually the United States will have to do more.
generally, 44 has made steady moves in support of democracy. After treating
it like a dirty word in its first year and a half, the administration has
returned to a pro-democracy posture not only in the Middle East, but also in
Russia and Asia. Given that the political evolution of countries in these
regions will have a direct bearing on the international strategic situation and
on the nature of world order in the coming years, this has been an eminently
for setbacks, topping the list is44's failure to work out an agreement with
Iraq to maintain a U.S. troop presence beyond the end of 2011. This has been a
disaster and may prove to be one of the gravest errors of 44's first term,
for which either he or his successor will pay a high price. If Iraq unravels
into sectarian warfare, it could easily suck other regional powers into the
conflict -- especially Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Just as importantly, it would set back
democratic progress in the region. Iraq is almost as much an anchor in the Arab
world as Egypt. The decision to give up on the admittedly difficult
negotiations with the Iraqis was clearly motivated by White House's desire to
run on "ending" the war in Iraq. This was as unnecessary as it was unwise.
decision to allow deep cuts in defense spending -- rather than addressing
entitlements -- is equally irresponsible. Here the 44th admin and
Congress are both to blame. But 44's team has compounded the problem by
elaborating a budget-driven defense strategy that is not commensurate with
American strategic goals and interests. It is ironic that 44 is adopting
Donald Rumsfeld's defense strategy -- high tech, light footprint.
We will find,
as we did in 43's years, 42's years, and in many previous decades,
that drones and missiles can only go so far in preserving American interests.
If not reversed, the deep cuts looming in defense will go a long way to
undermining the U.S. position in the world. They will even undercut the 44th
admin's efforts to make the United States a more reliable player in
Asia, despite its unconvincing protestations to the contrary.
Pic - "In the end, you can’t help but feel American strategy is adrift, with Team 44 presiding over our decline as a world power. Great time for the president to make the case to the contrary — if that’s possible."