How Obama killed diplomacy

Roger Cohen writes: “It is not going too far to say that American foreign policy has become completely subservient to tactical domestic political considerations.”

This stern verdict comes from Vali Nasr, who spent two years working for the Obama administration before becoming dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In a book called “The Dispensable Nation,” to be published in April, Nasr delivers a devastating portrait of a first-term foreign policy that shunned the tough choices of real diplomacy, often descended into pettiness, and was controlled “by a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers.”

Nasr, one of the most respected American authorities on the Middle East, served as senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan until his death in December 2010. From that vantage point, and later as a close observer, Nasr was led to the reluctant conclusion that the principal aim of Obama’s policies “is not to make strategic decisions but to satisfy public opinion.”

In this sense the first-term Obama foreign policy was successful: He was re-elected. Americans wanted extrication from the big wars and a smaller global footprint: Obama, with some back and forth, delivered. But the price was high and opportunities lost.

“The Dispensable Nation” constitutes important reading as John Kerry moves into his new job as secretary of state. It nails the drift away from the art of diplomacy — with its painful give-and-take — toward a U.S. foreign policy driven by the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and short-term political calculus. It holds the president to account for his zigzags from Kabul to Jerusalem. [Continue reading...]

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Comments

  1. DE Teodoru says:

    I had to see which Roger Cohen said that as the Roger Cohen at WashPo is a real Zionist-neocon windbag while the one at NYTimes is a real scholar and a gentlemen with a delightful English accent to boot who’d rather be brave and honest rather than a nasty bravado coward. He calls them as he sees ‘em: with brilliance and insight. He’s a REAL mensch!

    He should have been in the Cabinet along with Hagel.

    In fact, I’d be willing to settle for a vote by American Jews only as to whether Hagel becomes SecDef, so sure am I that he’s win a biiiiig majority. see, I told you: not all Jews are alike, even when they are Koheens (supposedly of one blood line) and of similar upbringing. So let us NEVER generalize about Jews!

  2. The “Roger Cohen” at WP is actually Richard Cohen.