Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Allies & Obama's Endless Foreign Policy Failures

Obama's egregious treatment of Israel is enough cause for concern but his overall foreign policy record is a cause for alarm. At virtually no level has he been successful and, indeed, he is mostly seen as a weak and ineffectual leader. Weirdly, this isn't the case when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan but then again, President Bush did all the heavy lifting on those countries and Obama just needs to manage not to screw things up. Which he has done, thus far.

But in the rest of the world, allies feel (and rightly) snubbed by the President. Click on the title of this post to read Robert Kagan's take in the Washington Post. We liked the penultimate and ultimate paragraphs:

"This may be the one great innovation of Obama foreign policy. While displaying more continuity than discontinuity in his policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq and the war against terrorism, and garnering as a result considerable bipartisan support for those policies, Obama appears to be departing from a 60-year-old American grand strategy when it comes to allies. The old strategy rested on a global network of formal military and political alliances, mostly though not exclusively with fellow democracies. The idea, Averell Harriman explained in 1947, was to create "a balance of power preponderantly in favor of the free countries." Under Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes, relations with Europe and Japan, and later India, were deepened and strengthened.

This administration pays lip-service to "multilateralism," but it is a multilateralism of accommodating autocratic rivals, not of solidifying relations with longtime democratic allies. Rather than strengthening the democratic foundation of the new "international architecture" -- the G-20 world -- the administration's posture is increasingly one of neutrality, at best, between allies and adversaries, and between democrats and autocrats. Israel is not the only unhappy ally, therefore; it's just the most vulnerable."