Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And now, Obama: The Diplomat

Obama Puts His Own Mark on Foreign Policy Issues - NY Times

If there is an Obama doctrine emerging, it is one much more realpolitik than his predecessor’s, focused on relations with traditional great powers and relegating issues like human rights and democracy to second-tier concerns. He has generated much more good will around the world after years of tension with Mr. Bush, and yet he does not seem to have strong personal friendships with many world leaders.

“It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower. And when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.
- Barack Obama

Addendum 4/15: Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on the Middle East

This shift is driving the White House's urgency to help broker a Middle East peace deal. It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.

Mr. Obama's words reverberated through diplomatic circles in large part because they echoed those of General David H. Petraeus, the military commander overseeing America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the surge in Afghanistan, withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq due to begin this year, Special Forces operations (and drone strikes) in Pakistan - as well as new diplomatic pressure, movement towards international economic sanctions against Iran, and now this new potential strategy at brokering an Israeli-Palestinian deal, Mr. Obama is quickly reshaping American Foreign Policy in the Middle East. Call me a cynic (or a realist), but in each case it seems as though he is delicately scaling a mountain of kindling, and one match (or misstep) could ignite an inferno of flames.

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