At The American Interest Walter Russell Mead reviews the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and finds it wanting:
Obama’s mix of high rhetoric, noble ideals and risk-averse decision-making plays into the stereotypes that Russians, Chinese, and others around the world have about the American national character. The idealistic speeches and the human rights gestures feed their fear of American purposes; the risk aversion plays into their contempt for American resolve. The result is to tilt policy in both Moscow and Beijing toward aggressive anti-Americanism. The governments in both countries believe that we are a threat to their internal security, but that we can be buffaloed if our opponents get tough.
What feels in the Obama White House like a smart mix of idealism and pragmatism looks very different abroad; unwittingly, the Administration’s “house style” of foreign policymaking is virtually guaranteed to promote aggressive behavior abroad.
It used to be claimed that politics stops at the water’s edge; now it is foreign policy. Those for whom the sum total objective of American foreign policy is to avoid American “boots on the ground” are certain to be delighted with the president’s foreign policy. After all, isn’t he more popular in France and Japan than his predecessor? How else is a foreign policy to be judged?
Others like me who are non-interventionist by predisposition are chagrined with the president’s intervention in Libya, with the use of armed drones in a dozen places around the world, in the president’s inclination to make hollow threats, and in the chaotic situations in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and various areas of Africa and role that the U. S. has played in fomenting or abetting the chaos.
Unmentioned in Dr. Mead’s summary is that WTO trade talks have gone nowhere during the Obama Administration, that China continues to be in breach of the obligations it assumed when it was admitted to the WTO, and that our trading partners continue to play mercantilist monetary games to our economic disadvantage. There are an enormous number of foreign policy action items that have nothing to do with military intervention that have languished over the last six years.
Even non-interventionists realize that the world does not stand still, that other nations have their own interests, that they will pursue them when they have the opportunity, and that nature abhors a vacuum.