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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Robert Kagan at the Washington Post notes the damage being done to our international relations by President Obama and his policies. It appears that the efforts made to focus on the belligerents have resulted in the neglect of traditional allies. Not to mention the scorning of Israel for having the audacity to build homes in their capital city. More:
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.

Hopefully the folly of this new strategy will become apparent before too much damage is done to certain relationships. No progress will be made with the belligerents without the full-fledged support of our traditional allies, and their dissatisfaction is weakening our position in Afghanistan, with the UK and the Dutch recently withdrawing their troops (generally seen as some of the best in the theatre). These situations should be getting more attention than trying to improve relations with countries like Burma and Syria. One can only hope that the Obama State Department is good at quickly gaining experience at what is an effective strategy and what is not. Strategy from wishful thinking is often more dangerous than the realpolitik so often criticized by many on the Left.

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