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America Self-Contained? A Symposium
The Reluctant Strongman

The Obama Administration’s foreign policy has been one long parade of errors.

Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 5 | Published on: April 8, 2014
Eliot A. Cohen teaches at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
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  • Beatrix17

    Insightful and accurate article. It’s reassuring to know that our universities can still produce people who engage in knowledgeable assessments of today’s world. When was the
    last time a group of factory workers or bus drivers engaged in the screeching, sputtering nonsense of BDS and calls for boycotts of Israel, a democratic ally? Our universities are teaching students to be loyal to the left, not loyal to America.

  • Henry Silver

    While there is a pattern, some situations are considerable more dangerous than others. John Kerry repeatedly flies over the carnage in Syria – WHICH A HUMANE WORLD LEADER WOULD NOT BE PERMITTING TO TAKE PLACE – to take cheap shots at the proud Jewish leader, Bibi Netanyahu, and place Israel in greater and greater danger. I saw and heard Obama promise to have Israel’s back, but every indication – I hope and pray that I’m wrong – is a policy which weakens the Jewish State, caters to the Palestinians and gives Iran the bomb. Every foreign policy step in the Middle East has weakened Israel politically (but not militarily for reasons I cannot explain), by intent or accident – toppling Mubarak, supporting the Brotherhood after they abrogated democracy, releasing Libyan arms, reaching out to Erdogan as the US’s chief ally, humiliating Israel by forcing her to apologize to an Islamizing Turkey, going easy on Hamas, forcing Israel to release Palestinian murderers, (while criticizing Afghanistan for releasing its terrorists) who are honored by Abbas (absent US criticism) and paid pensions directly or indirectly by US taxpayers (a disgrace).
    The Administration “set up” Israel over settlements, that were not a major issue, with Abbas agreeing to a land exchange with Olmert in 2008 and even the NYTimes editorializing this easy solution. Yet Obama used “settlements” as a stick to beat Israel, extending them into Jerusalem, and negotiated for Abbas while asking nothing from him, which encouraged the Palestinians to launch a political intifada vs Israel via the EU and to criminalize Israel at the UN, to eschew “normalization”, to honor terrorists, and start a world wide BDS campaign. Kerry threatened Israel with a 3rd intifada, an EU boycott and then blamed Israel for a breakdown in negotiations in which he permitted the Palestinians never to engage. Obama threatened Netanyahu with sanctions during his visit while praising Abbas as a man of peace and even lectured Bibi on Israel’s “mistreatment” of Israeli Arabs. (What has this to do with the peace process?)
    A foreign policy fixated on the proud Jew?

  • elihustone

    Professor Cohen is ‘spot on’, as usual.

  • Gea

    Unfortunately, 70% of American Jews were still fooled by Barack Hussein Obama in 2012 to vote for him although it was obvious that Obama is a friend of mortal enemies of Jew, Israel and Western civilization, his Muslim Brotherhood and other unsavory regimes, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This shows incredible ignorance and blindness on the part of American Jews who had yielded to political correctness, rather then evaluating facts as they are.

    Obama is subverting US Constitution in US and Universal Declaration of Human Rifghts at the UN to muzzle any exposure of hateful teachings of Koran and Islam, which are currently the root cause of terrorism and violence, as anybody who had studied th bloody history of Islam and Mohaemd and read Koran KNOWS. Read Koran to see for yourself http://www.cspipublishing.com/pdfs/ATwohourKoran.pdf what it teaches to followers of Mohamed who himself was a pedophile, polygamist, rapist, misogynist, looter and murderer, who in any decent society would be convicted for his crimes against humanity and not emulated by 1,640 millions of Muslims worldwide who think that this criminal is “the most perfect human being who ever lived”. European jails are disproportionately filled with Muslims,s who are taught to hate their host countries in the mosques paid by Saudis and Iranians..

  • diderot à la campagne

    thanks for these spectacles, it is a perspective among several. I can appreciate Obama´s new paradigm, away from the mideast and the intellectual terrorism practiced by the neoconservative obsession.

  • Ghosts of Benghazi

    Obama and his appointed court of fools are the most incompetent administration in the history of history – end of analysis!

  • Corlyss

    Where has this been? The unfamiliar posters testify that it hasn’t been here in the Feed.

  • ddh

    The weaknesses that Eliot Cohen outlines in foreign policy extend throughout the Administration. The President prefers to be surrounded by courtiers, not advisers who can tell him he is wrong, if need be.

    • Curious Mayhem

      Obama is probably the most narcissistic man to ever hold the office of president, beating out even Carter and Wilson. He reminds me of how William James defined “pretension,” the ratio of ambition to achievement.

  • Bretzky1

    That Russia is doing what it’s doing under Obama’s nose is simply a function of Russia’s renewed strength occurring while he’s in office. Obama’s mistake was the same one he keeps making: talking tough with no intention of backing it up.

    I would personally like to shake Obama’s hand for keeping us out of the mess in Syria. The US has no interests at risk there, and we would actually be worse off with the rebels in control in Damascus than Assad.

    The only issue that matters vis-a-vis Iran right now is their nuke program. Everything else is window dressing. Even the Gulf states have come to see that as they have started to engage in diplomatic contact with Iran as the Obama administration has inched closer to a nuclear agreement.

    It’s long past the time that we pushed Israel out to arms length. There’s no more damaging relationship to US interests around the world than our uncritical embrace of a regime that is imposing an Apartheid governing structure on occupied territory that it is illegally colonizing.

    The situation in Egypt was definitely a fumble by the Administration. As soon as it became clear that Morsi had no intention of sharing power with the secular opposition, we should have started distancing ourselves from his rule. It does the US no good, after all, if all we get from democratization in the Middle East is just electoral democracy. There needs to be real, liberal democracy or nothing will much change in the region.

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