Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 5
Published on: April 9, 2014
Telephotos
Out of the Quicksand

Strategic failure in the Middle East could be a blessing in disguise.

Casimir Yost is a senior associate in the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. He served on the National Intelligence Council from 2009–13 as Director of the Strategic Futures Group.
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  • ShadrachSmith

    RE: Obama’s “vigorous diplomacy”.

    What about Obama’s diplomacy strikes you as vigorous? The only enemies Obama recognizes are Republicans, and his only friends are Democrat donors.

    Foreign Policy doesn’t cross Obama’s mind as often as his backswing does. Foreign Policy is something that Obama delegates and forgets. When will you discover that he simply doesn’t care about that part of the job?

    • Yup. It’s this utter lack of curiosity about the rest of the world that’s absolutely deadly. And this apology simply won’t work:

      “In theory that is right, but in practice senior policymakers can only manage a finite number of issues.”

      True as far as it goes, but there’s a huge difference between being able (and willing) to manage 15, and being annoyed at having to manage 2 or 3.

    • Corlyss

      Foreign policy doesn’t cross his mind at all. He does what Val and Chelle tell him to. He doesn’t like governing. The complexity of really stubborn facts bores him. Speechifyin’ is easier and less demanding.

  • Anthony

    A sober and dispassionate essay that carefully illuminates United States’ foreign policy challenges, possibilities, unknowns, knowns, and backdrop. Splendid reading and essay’s early publishing (Apr. 8th) prior to Feed posting has not changed criticality of author’s premise.

  • I hope somebody is reminding the leaders of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia that they can get away with quite a bit, but if they jeopardize the flow of oil, it won’t be the Americans that they have to worry about–it’ll be the Chinese.

    • John Stephens

      China’s ability to project military power into the Middle East remains unproven, and no other sort is respected there.

  • Corlyss

    Another example of the foreign policy establishment praising the dazzling raiment of this administration’s strategic nudity. I challenge any of them to identify a single act, as opposed to rhetoric, to substantiate the alleged pivot to Asia.

    • ljgude

      Well said Corlyss. There have been other pieces on this blog recently that talked about Israeli Palestinian peace as having some kind of reality and a nuclear ‘deal’ with Iran as if the Iranians might actually adhere to it. It is painfully obvious that the Arabs will settle for nothing less than the elimination of Israel and the Iranians are going to make nuclear weapons unless they are forcibly prevented from doing so. Strategic nudity indeed. Pass the laughing gas.

      • Corlyss

        One thing you can say about the foreign policy establishment with absolute certainty: the members either have worked for State or hope one day to work for State. Therefore they have to have a paper trail that allows the hiring official at State to feel comfortable with the potential selectee as “one of us.”

        • ljgude

          Yes I’m afraid you are right. These people are not loyal to the US as a country anymore, they are ‘company men’ loyal to a bureaucratic in group. Like the industry lobbyists that become regulators and then lobbyists again these folks exist in a self referential demimonde of academia and Foggy Bottom. As a counter example I saw a video of Israeli journalist Caroline Glick recently promoting her book on an Israeli one state solution. She is a Chicago girl and who has become an Israeli and I was stunned to hear her speak passionately in an absolutely American accent of the vital strategic interests of her country – forcing me to recognize how rarely I hear Americans speak that way. She is not a particularly effective speaker – not as good as Hillary – but right or wrong, she clearly had her strategic clothes on. Our wonks are evidently so far gone into nuanced discussion of which unicorn will win the next Nobel Prize that they actually believe the unicorns exist.

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