Obama to redefine foreign policy

2014-05-27 17:05
Barack Obama (Picture: AP)

Barack Obama (Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now

Washington - He's been president for five and a half years, brought troops home from Iraq, is winding down the Afghan war, killed Osama bin Laden and crafted a multitude of speeches defining his world view.

Yet President Barack Obama still feels the need to make a new attempt to explain his foreign policy to Americans this week.

It's a measure of threats to his reputation as a statesman that Obama, who rode a willingness to talk to US enemies like Iran, avoid foreign quagmires and wage war by drone to two presidential terms, is giving the speech at all.

Top aides say the speech at West Point military academy on Wednesday will set out a broad foreign policy framework for a president who has resisted defining a personal diplomatic doctrine.

It will take place as Obama's strategy of disengaging from Middle East wars and pivoting US power to Asia is challenged by crises including sectarian mayhem in Syria, a revanchist Russia and a territorially belligerent China.

Obama's critics have seized on the tumult to argue that the president is being outmanoeuvred by authoritarian leaders like Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and Syria's Bashar Assad.

He has also struggled to rebut claims his failure to strike Syria over chemical weapons use last year sent a message that the United States would let its "red lines" be crossed.

Turning point 

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama sees America at a turning point.

"Our foreign policy is going to look a lot different going forward than it did in the last decade when Iraq and Afghanistan really dominated the discussion," Rhodes said.

There was an end-of-an-era feel to Obama's surprise weekend trip to Afghanistan, where major combat operations end in seven months.

Aides also hinted that Obama would give some indications of the size of the post-2014 training force he is contemplating for Afghanistan in his speech.

He will explain his goals in the last years of his administration and "how our approach in hot spots like Ukraine, Iran and Syria fit into that construct," a senior US official said.

Obama believes his legacy lies in moving America on from the traumatic military and legal wars against terror sparked by the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to a more sustainable security posture.

"What we want to do is step back and put all of these actions into the context of how does America lead in the world and how do we strike the balance between not getting overextended as we were in Iraq," Rhodes said.

Obama is getting increasingly frustrated with his critics.

Privately, he has fumed that there is not appreciation that he has avoided errors like Iraq and publicly accuses his foes of being trigger happy.

But critics like Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee warn Obama's desire to avoid errors means problems like Syria come back to haunt him.

"It's a sweep-under-the-rug foreign policy, and I think that's exacerbating the potential for conflict down the road," Corker told the Times Free Press of Tennessee.

No big stick

Other critics warn Obama's problem is not a paucity of explanation but an unwillingness to wield a big stick.

After all, the president has made many eloquent speeches on foreign policy - from his Nobel address on the nature of war to a speech on drone policy last year.

But at times, his caution has been outpaced by events in places like Syria and Ukraine.

Kori Schake, who worked for George W Bush's National Security Council, warned that basing a foreign policy around avoiding error was insufficient.

"They are wrong that avoiding mistakes is the goal, and they are wrong that they have avoided mistakes," Schake said, arguing that the administration's reluctance to throw its wholehearted support behind the Syrian opposition made things worse.

But Obama supporters see the Republican critique as harking back to a day when an American president could dictate outcomes by simply talking tough.

Since then, US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have punctured perceptions of US power and turned Americans against foreign wars.

Obama must also navigate a world that includes Russia's challenge to the post-Cold War order, a rising China flexing its muscles, developing states grabbing a piece of the economic pie and a sectarian tide swamping borders in the Middle East.

Seeking the perfect balance

Former State Department official Bruce Jentleson said Washington must find a balance between too much retrenchment - where Obama and libertarian conservatives sometimes fall - and the re-assertiveness of neo-conservatives who have an overly bullish view of US power.

"I think it is valid to say that this administration has not made major errors but that is not sufficient for sustaining a successful foreign policy over two terms of a presidency," he said.

Jentleson, now with Duke University and the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said it was vital for US security and "the legacy that President Obama wants to leave that some of these problems get better answers.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  vladimir putin  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.