The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Foreign Policy is Hard Obama’s Foreign Policy Has Democrats Worried

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent phone call to the White House was supposed to help find a diplomatic resolution to unrest in the Ukraine, but instead, it has the Democratic foreign policy establishment more worried than before. One prominent member to voice concerns is Leslie Gelb, who served as an Assistant Secretary of State during the Carter administration, and is the President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Gelb points out that Obama’s inclination towards diplomatic negotiation without the threat of military follow-through could encourage potential aggressors to act without fear of retribution. Writing for The Daily Beast, Gelb explains:

It’s bad enough that Obama thinks of the U.S. response to Russia in Ukraine almost exclusively in terms of diplomatic isolation of the bad guy, plus economic sanctions such as they are or might be, and a touch of military aid. But the real worry is that this has become his pattern worldwide. If potential aggressors come to think that their power grabs will be met solely by diplomatic harassment and some economic squeezing, they will be tempted increasingly to snatch whatever they want first and worry later. Greedy lawbreakers have been  emboldened by Obama’s unenforced “red lines” in Syria. Same goes for North Korean rockets landing on South Korean lands without serious penalty. And the same holds for China’s new pattern of muscle flexing to establish its interests in the East and South China Seas. Ukraine only reinforces the pattern.

It’s clear that the Democratic establishment is increasingly worried. Their fear is not only that poor foreign policy choices will create crises for this President, but also that decades of building democratic credibility on foreign policy will have been lost unless the White House changes direction.

Published on April 5, 2014 11:55 am
  • alanstorm

    Obama’s Foreign Policy Has Everyone Worried – For Different Reasons.

    The democrats worry about the effect on the next election. Intelligent people worry about the effect on the world.

  • Fat_Man

    “decades of building democratic credibility on foreign policy will have been lost unless the White House changes direction.”

    Then they can kiss their credibility goodby. Obama’s learning curve is described mathematically as y = 0. When he makes a mistake he blames the opposition, and doubles down. The fiery pit has opened in front of us.

  • Maynerd

    Obama’s naive blinkered world view is a product of academic faculty lounges and openly marxist parents. I don’t believe Obama is a marxist but he does have a reflexively anti-western world view.

    Early in his presidency, he buddied up to Putin, Hugo Chavez, Turkish despot Erdogan, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc; and stiffed the UK and Israel. Very telling.

  • gabrielsyme

    I’m not sure how much credit to give Putin, but in keeping with his generally astute navigation of international diplomacy, he has cottoned on to the best strategy in getting the upper hand on America: which is, of course, getting President Obama personally involved.

    One can be sceptical of just how effective the State Department under Kerry would be in dealing with Russia; but it was not State that decided to create a foolish “red line” and it was not State that decided to run into the waiting arms of Russia to avoid having to deal with the consequences.

    In any event, I cannot doubt that Obama is in the midst of being played like a fiddle.

  • glissando

    IT IS ALL
    BY DESIGN……

    OUR
    MAN-CHILD’S DEEP HATRED OF AMERICA….THAT
    IS WHAT WE SHOULD FEAR RIGHT TO THE BONE !!! OBAMA, THE WORLD’S
    SOCIOPATH HAS THE EARTH’S FREEDOM LOVING & GOD LOVING NATIONS LIVING IN
    FEAR. #1 HE IS A MUSLIM TERRORIST. HIS “FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY IS PRAYER
    TIME< WHEN HE HITS HIS KNEES AND BOWS TO THE EAST, #2 HE HAS EFFECTIVELY
    REMOVED ALL AMERICA’S ALLIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST #3 HE HAS SCHEMED WITH AL QAEDA
    — IN THE WHITE HOUSE — TO DESTROY ISRAEL. #$ HE HAS DISMANTLED OUR MILITARY
    TO THE POINT WHERE WE PROJECT NOT FEAR, BUT LAUGHTER. #5 HE HAS BEEN WORKING
    DAY AND NIGHT — UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF SOME FINE COLUMBIAN COCAINE — TO
    DESTROY THE NATION’S RELIGIONS. #6 HE DESTROYED AMERICA’S PRIDE IN SPACE
    EXPLORATION. #7 HE HAS FOLLOWED THE COMMUNIST GAME PLAN OF DESTROYING OUR MOST
    CHERISHED AND MOST PERSONAL PRIVATE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. MY FAMILY IN CANADA
    USED TO RUN HERE FOR SERIOUS MEDICAL PROCEDURES — NOW THEY SIT HOME AND LAUGH
    AT US……AND ONE MORE THING: IT IS NOT INEPTITUDE…IT IS ALL BY DESIGN.

  • Curious Mayhem

    The Democratic establishment should be worried. They went all out to get Obama elected and expected to influence things in the direction of a repeat of Clinton. Clinton benefited from Bush Sr. and Reagan’s risky but ultimately winning bets and was able to coast on a large reserve of respect for the US.

    But from the start, Obama, an intense narcissist, has demonstrated that he’s under the sway of the half-baked bad ideas and his status of a fraudulent national savior. Both were cooked up by others as ways to promote Obama far beyond his ability and interest. The reality is that he’s never been more than a third-rate, parochial machine politician. World leaders have now figured this out. When will Americans?

    By the end of his first term, the failure was already evident. But no one wanted to call the emperor on his new clothes, or the party, or the voters, for that matter. This is worse than 1980. It’s more like Wilson’s disastrous 1920, or the 1930s.

  • Black_Saint

    World leaders do not respect, fear or like Obama he has proven to be a failure at home and abroad and is without doubt the worse American President in History!

    • FreedomRings_CA

      And the most ineffective.

      • inthisdimension

        Obama has been extremely effective. You just can’t measure him as one would measure anyone who loved America, Liberty, Freedom or Western Civilization. But he has put in place his policies very effectively; they are just policies anathema to civilized people.

        • FreedomRings_CA

          Except his policies – I hope – will tumble like a “house of cards” once he is out of office. It will depend on who the next President is.

          No doubt historians will write many books about this guy. I expect there will be many such books that compare the Presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

          What I find interesting is that we end up with such a President (who obviously has an agenda that seeks to diminish the power and influence of the United States) at this time in history. Change is happening everywhere all over the world and we can see more serious upheavals are coming. This would, I believe, have been happening regardless of who was sitting in the Oval Office.

          But we have BO and here sits our President – a inexperienced man with few leadership skills, ineffectual in the art of negotiation, and yet arrogant with his personal conviction he is “the smartest man in the room” in virtually any company – unwilling to deal with issues outside his area of interest at a time when effective U.S. leadership could lessen the amount of blood being spilled around the world. But BO sits on his hands, talks of “red lines”, and does nothing. This emboldens the worst of the power-seekers in positions of leadership in their own countries. And the blood-flow increases daily.

          It is as if BO was “made to order” – the perfect “leader” to have in the strongest, most influential nation on the globe – assured to hamstring it, lessen it, and diminish its influence on events.

          The most ironic thing (out of all the ironies thus far) ? This man was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Black_Saint

    Dear Leader has Putin quaking in his boots and his bowels running loose!.

    We know when Dear Leader gives one of his world famous teleprompter reading to his adoring cult members that Tyrants, Terrorist, Criminals and Dictators around the world bellies shake and eyes water at the display of his reading ability, and graceful prancing around the stage.

    Then he stops and raises his noble brow and looks pass the teleprompter and sees the future of American of Ghetto,s and Barrio,s from sea to shining sea and all voting Democrat and it is good!

    Never have we had a President like Dear Leader that the world respects, likes, trust and friends adore and foes fear…we are so lucky to have a President with his ghetto organizing qualifications……. He really is….THE ONE the world has been waiting on ..He is the change we seek!

    Our Dear Leader can outthink, and outperform Putin even while playing golf, vacationing, smoking dope or scoring coke!

  • George1111

    2016 would be an interesting year on foreign affair, when all the bad actors in the world rush up to pocket their gains before Obama left the White House. How many invasions and land grabs we will have? Who knows, but Taiwan and the Baltic States sound like good candidates, so far

  • bscook111

    Obama’s incompetence and corresponding weaselry should be no surprise to anyone. This was entirely predictable from his history and genesis. One can only hope our electorate takes the lesson for future. We sorely need to, and this includes the Rs as well. Contemplating our body-politic since Reagan makes me, for the most, nauseous.

  • jd0717

    W R Mead and Leslie Gelb voted for this obviously incompetent ‘leader’. All to show how un-prejudiced the enlightened class were. Will they apologize now?

  • andrewp111

    Huh?
    “but also that decades of building democratic credibility on foreign
    policy will have been lost unless the White House changes direction.”

    Decades of democratic credibility? Is that supposed to be an April Fool’s joke? The Democrats are behaving exactly as one would expect them to behave, given their longstanding record. Democrats do appeasement and economic sanctions until an aggressor passes our national breaking point, then they go to war.

    • PJ1020

      Your reaction is the same as mine. What credibility?

    • Jim__L

      The only way that this makes any sense at all is in terms of the small-”d” democratic credibility of the White House, as reflected by the muscular “freedom and democracy” agenda of the Cold War and presidents through GWB.

      Even Bill “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton had more credibility in terms of defending democracy than our current clown does.

  • PJ1020

    Foreign policy? You gotta be kiddin me. What foreign policy?

    The next time he talks to Putin he will give the entire West Coast to Russia in exchange for a promise from Vlad that Russia won’t invade Disneyland. But he will justify it by saying its OK because we will still have 55 states left.

    • Black_Saint

      Never happen to many Uneducated welfare Democrats from South of the Border there he will give Putin the heartland and keep the liberal bastions of communism on the coasts!

    • bowhowdy2

      he will give the entire West Coast to Russia

      That sounds like a good deal to me! Let’s throw in the Washington,D.C-New York-Boston elitist, leftist corridor to make the deal complete. Now we’re talking progress!

  • Arch

    Obama’s foreign policy may be summarized this way: Run your mouth and carry a big set of knee pads.

    • keithpridgeon

      then use his mouth to keep them happy while the pads protect his knees?

  • AmosJones

    Nothing President Obama has done or failed to do can hope to compete with the Bush administration failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two failed wars are hard to eclipse.

    • mkegino

      The wars were won until Barry took over. He is hated by 90% of those in uniform.

    • Ready… for Prison

      Bush’s failures pale in comparison to the mountain of lies that built UuhhhbamaScare.

    • Rick N. Backer

      Like that “failed” democratic election they just had in Afghanistan?

    • j011254

      They weren’t failed until after Obama became President. You should really evaluate the current situation taking into account the inability of Obama to actually construct a valid foreign policy. Stop blaming Bush for Obama’s failures.

      • AmosJones

        Failures since day one. Obama has much to answer for, but starting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Nope.

    • mertsj

      You know, all the wars since WWII have been failed wars because we no longer allow our soldiers to fight to win.

    • bowhowdy2

      I don’t know. Obummerkare will eclipse them. When the final tally (cost, toll in lives and overall misery) from that fiasco is added up, it will make Bushie’s misadventures look like child’s play.

    • Prospector

      Obama sure guaranteed that all the blood, trust, and treasure was for nothing.

  • B Martin

    …has the Dems worried?,……how about all our “previous” allies!

  • mikekelley10
  • Eburke9999

    Mr. Mead, while I respect you and have read some of your books and articles, I believe that you have been way off base on this one from the beginning (of prominent columnists, only pat Buchanan seems to get it. That said the following:
    Putin is not a perfect messenger of our Lord because there are no perfect messengers as we are all unrighteousness. Putin is a flawed messenger of the Word – but a messenger he is. A global powerful leader however is exactly what is needed to counter satin’s minions who rule the west which is the new evil empire building their new Tower of Babel in the form of the New World Order. People of faith throughout the world need a powerful leader who will not be intimidated in a fight against the pharasies and money changers of this new world order. Now only The Lord truly knows what is in Putin’s heart but this is certainly not the first time that God has chosen flawed messengers and leaders to spread His Word and fight the forces of Satin – where to begin: Abraham a liar (“Sarah’s my sister”), Jacob a thief and a liar, Moses a murderer among other things causing God to deny his entrance into Israel, David an adulterer and murderer, Solomon a pride filled power monger, Peter a pride filled coward denier or Our Lord – as we’re the other 10 original faithful deciples (judas obviously excluded thus 11), Paul a murderer prior to his conversion, and list goes on – only One was righteous and perfect and that is our Lord in the flesh. So why not Putin as he appears to fit the bill – a flawed and sinful man but one ready and able to carry the Word of The Lord – why does God choose such obviously outwardly flawed leaders to fight the forces of satin because it then becomes more apparent that it is NOT the human leader but God through such flawed sinners which then makes it apparent to those willing to see that it is God leading the fight through his faithful against the forces of darkness – Remember for Christ is the way, the truth and the light – what other global leader is standing courageously against the evil pagans of the west – so may God bless Putin in this fight and at the same time help him to repent for his many sins (including that of Christian persecutor (Saul before he was St. Paul) murderer as a KGB agent, pride-filled, etc.) but through faith in Christ alone who died for our sins he is redeemed.

    • inthisdimension

      Have you heard of the Enlightenment and Age of Reason?

      • Eburke9999

        I think so… Give me a break. Locke should not be put on the pedestal that he has been given. Burke understands much more that you can’t just remake the world over again as mill and Rousseau would have it. Do you see the French Revolution as enlightenment theory in action? Freedom and liberty can only exist in an environment whereby tradition is respected with changes that are very slow and incremental and where an educated virtuous citizenry exists. Look at what is currently going on in Nevada with regard to the ranching family – us govt is new evil empire – wake up.

  • WBC

    Liberals elected exactly the sort of person they wanted with exactly the sort of foreign policy and geopolitical vacuousness that they favor. Then they “worry” that reality might actually be more important than their ideology both here and abroad. Unfortunately, the reality is that there is not a single world leader, enemy or ally, that takes Obama seriously and he cannot ever regain trust or respect. This particular hyena simply will not change his spots.

    • inthisdimension

      Actually, it’s worse. Now the rest of the world knows that American voters are so abysmally educated that they can – and likely will – give the world another Obama at any time. ANY world leader still respecting American leadership is a naif. Hillary will be more of the same – and worse.It isn’t Obama over the long run; it’s the voters who can put him there…

  • themaskedblogger

    Well they should be. I’m terrified, and I’m not even a Democrat.

  • j011254

    Obama has no intention of implementing a foreign policy that actually is in this country’s best interest. It’s just not what this community organizer is interested in. If it doesn’t burnish the halo effect of this President, he doesn’t want to do the hard work required. We have another three years before this country can adopt a more robust foreign policy. Even then, it will take decades to repair the damage being done by this President.

  • Prospector

    I’ll bet that the Poles, Japanese, South Koreans, and Taiwanese are worried, too.

    • inthisdimension

      It’s all part of OB’s jobs’ plan. He is creating markets for arms merchants, particularly developing nuclear technologies in former allies of the US as they come to realize that American Democrat voters may, at any time, give the world another Obama who has no intention whatsoever of defending America, let alone any of our myriad allies. Watch as this policy creates nuclear states of Japan, Saudi Arabia, S. Korea, Australia, and, with the help of Putin’s moves on Ukraine… Germany.

  • inthisdimension

    Obama has a foreign policy? Are you sure? Can you identify any portion or rationale or worldview at its core? Cuz I sure can’t…