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Carteresque, Indecisive


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.

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  • bpuharic

    It’s funny to read the right commend the French for their insight. When the French went to the mattresses to stonewall Bush on Iraq, the right went ballistic. But now they’re the model of incisiveness.

    Seems to me WRM’s been gaslighted…again. The French have their objectives in Syria and they’re all too willing to have someone else pay the price. As, it seems, is WRM.

  • stan

    Where is the evidence that Obama is a good lawyer? As editor of the law review at Harvard, he’d have had his choice of awesome job offers upon graduation. But his skills were so bad that the offers weren’t there. And he certainly hasn’t done anything in life since then to lead anyone to conclude that he was a good lawyer.

    • bpuharic

      I’m willing to be you haven’t a single shred of evidence to that effect

      But that’s what the right does…invents stories. Supply side economics, etc.

      Continue with your lies.

    • Kavanna

      Obama wasn’t editor of the Harvard Law Review, but president, a ceremonial position sometimes confused with the editor, not a ceremonial position.

      There’s never been much there to start with, something foreigners are still having a hard time wrapping their heads around. A parliamentary system, with strong parties, would never allow anyone like him near significant power. America was once like that, before it became an episode of American Idol.

      At least Carter had been a governor and run a business.

      • bpuharic

        And yet the noted former TX governor got us into 2 wars, blew a 2 trillion dollar hole in the budget and killed 4400.

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