Friday, April 29, 2011

How The Arab Spring Changed President Obama's Foreign Policy

Photo: Obama has said that his foreign-policy ideas defy traditional categories and ideologies. Photograph by Martin Schoeller.

The Consequentialist: How the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. -- Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

Barack Obama came to Washington just six years ago, having spent his professional life as a part-time lawyer, part-time law professor, and part-time state legislator in Illinois. As an undergraduate, he took courses in history and international relations, but neither his academic life nor his work in Springfield gave him an especially profound grasp of foreign affairs. As he coasted toward winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, in 2004, he began to reach out to a broad range of foreign-policy experts––politicians, diplomats, academics, and journalists.

Read more ....

My Comment: Charles Krauthammer has a rebuke to Ryan Lizza's article, and it is here. Ryan Lizza was also interviewed by Charlie Rose last night, and that discussion is here.

What is my take .... last night Ryan Lizza remarked how the term .... "leading from behind" .... is the best way to describe U.S. foreign policy, and that the phrase first came from South Africa's Mandela who embraced it and used it to convince South African authorities to change their way of governing. I cannot deny that, but where I differ from Ryan Lizza is that Mandela had a clear objective and ideology as well as a willing negotiator in South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk. President Obama does not have this clarity of purpose in his foreign policy (with the exception of being critical of past U.S. foreign policy decisions), nor does he have willing allies who will go to bat for him when he needs them. He is a solitary leader on the world stage, and when interests intersect is when other world leaders will talk to him. Charles Krauthammer's analysis is on the money .... and unfortunately for us .... this lack of vision, commitment, and purpose from the White House (and State Department) is severely hurting U.S. foreign policy .... a situation that almost every other country around the world is now taking notice.

No comments: