The French are calling President Obama Carteresque—and they don’t mean it as a compliment:
Carter was a somewhat bland engineer, whereas Obama is a charismatic lawyer. Yet they seem to share a fundamental indecisiveness in their approach to world affairs. Carter had difficulty choosing between the muscular line of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the more moderate approach of his secretary of state, Cyrus Vance.By contrast, there are no fundamental disagreements among Obama’s closest foreign-policy advisers – Susan Rice, the national security adviser, Samantha Power, who succeeded Rice as US Ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of State John Kerry. Instead, it is Obama himself who seems to be constantly hesitating. The divisions are not among his advisers, but within his own mind.As a good lawyer, Obama weighs the pros and cons, aware that it is impossible to do nothing in the Syrian crisis but remaining viscerally disinclined to leap into any foreign entanglement that would distract attention from his agenda of domestic reform. More important, he seems to lack a coherent long-term strategic vision of America’s role in the world. Neither the currently fashionable “Asian pivot” nor the “Russian reset” four years ago constitute the beginning of a grand plan.
Those are the words of Dominique Moisi, one of the most authoritative public voice of the French foreign policy establishment. Read the whole thing to get a full flavor of the analysis. If this is how the French see him, think how the tongues are wagging in Damascus, Tehran, Moscow and Beijing.WRM will be visiting Europe early next month and hopes to get a sense of what our NATO allies are thinking. Stay tuned.