I’ve come across numerous articles this semester that have described President Obama’s foreign policy approach as being marred by idealism. This accusation was especially prevalent in Dueck’s article “The Accommodator.”
Dueck seems to be incapable of imagining foreign policy outside of the context of traditional realism. He argues that Barack Obama simply “does not understand” that states act in their self- interest, and that a policy of “leading from behind” involving the accommodation of other states’ foreign policy goals will not eliminate this reality. Dueck believes that Obama’s focus on improving relations with the Middle East, particularly with Iran has weakened the United States’ position.
President Obama has indicated to Iran that he is open to improving relations with Iran, rather than being “strong” by further condemning Iran’s corruption and pursuit of nuclear weapons. In regards to Russia, Obama has “accommodated” to their desires to be influential in Eastern Europe by signing the New START treaty and suspending the construction of missile defense systems instead of pushing forward with construction and forcing Russia to acquiesce to U.S. interests in the region. The U.S. has also encouraged improved relations with China, and has not pushed toward condemning China’s human rights abuses.
However, Dueck’s argument is simply one that states basically “Obama has not done what a realist would do.” Furthermore, Obama’s foreign policy has been difficult to analyze because he has not followed the template traditionally used by presidents in the past. He has pushed for a policy in which relations have been on the forefront. To this extent Obama is an idealist, going away from traditional foreign policy which focuses on strengthening the United States’ lead as world-path-determiner.
Is there no room for idealism in foreign policy? Is there no room to take a risk on diplomacy over militarization? Should we always frame the argument in terms of the weak and the strong, the good and the evil, the west versus the east? It seems that the traditional arguments have left no room for other options. It seems to suggest that we should force our ideas down the throat of others in the hopes that they will not fight back. I suggest giving a bit of idealism a chance.
Read Full Post »
North Korea announced yesterday that it will test launch another long-range rocket for the commemoration of the one year anniversary of the death of the former leader Kim Jong-Il. This launch is said to take place any time from December 10 to December 22. The report mentions how this announcement was made after Chinese delegation went to visit North Korea. It was speculated that China had sent a delegation to speak with North Korea about halting launches of test missiles. Critics say that this launch is a cover for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles. South Korea and the United States see this test launch as a provocation from North Korea.
“In Washington, the Obama administration also denounced the planned launching. A North Korean ‘satellite’ launching would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement on Saturday. She added that the United States was consulting with allies on the issue.”
This article reflects my points covered in my North Korean Nuclear Proliferation research paper. It demonstrates the argument I made of North Korea’s “two faced” actions. North Korea says the missile launch is a form of celebrating the memory of previous leader Kim Jong-Il as it did in April when it launched a missile to remember Kim Il-Sung the creator the Korean nation. When in reality these launches are actual missile testing under the disguise of commemoration for previous leaders. Though the April launch was a failed launch, this new launch is said to be full of hope for success as previous errors were corrected. This announcement by North Korea only elevates the tension between North and South Korea and inevitably a concern for the United States even though North Korea may not be a priority on America’s foreign policy check list right now, though it is there as a concern. North Korea seems to be using in my opinion these test launches as a form of leverage for negotiations for economic aid and to serve as a reminder to other countries the potential it could have with its missile launches and its continued focus on the production of weapons of mass destruction.
Read Full Post »
Upon stumbling on this reading on the New York Times the discussion about climate change seems to be gaining importance. Much of it is due to the meeting on climate change that is going to be held at Doha, Qatar for the last round of talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But this meeting according to the New York Times will achieve barely anything because of the unwillingness of countries to actually fulfill emission targets. Previous targets set in 2009 for limiting the warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will not be achieved. Instead of reducing as carbon emissions developing countries such as China and India are increasing their coal related emissions because of these countries high concentration on coal. A criticism is made to developed nations who have decreased their carbon emissions by displacing their emission burdens to other developing countries by simply transferring manufacturing to those countries. In the case of the United States progress has been made for reducing its carbon emissions and increasing the supply of natural gas. But though the United States has made some achievements it is still one of the most carbon emitting countries. What this article seems to point out in general is that though agreements are made for possible emission targets these are in reality never going to be achieved. As the year’s pass rather than trying to meet their goals of reduction they are actually increasing emissions. Inevitably their goals of limiting global warming and carbon emissions will become unattainable if this trend continues. Though people have high hopes for the Doha summit the actual progress in reducing emissions is may be too difficult with emissions at a record high. I agree with this article because it seems to difficult to make anyone accountable for reducing carbon emissions. Countries are finding ways to work around their reductions like moving manufacturing abroad or in the case of China who still wants to be considered a “developing country” to be allowed to continue its emissions. Reductions are difficult to achieve but growing climate changes and rising global temperature tells us that global warming is something that we cannot push-off for too long.
Read Full Post »
Today in the New York Times there was an article about Afghanistan that correlated with yesterdays in class discussion about Afghanistan. In class we discussed how President Obama declared that troops would be removed from Afghanistan by 2014. This article in today’s paper talked about this same issue and how the White House and the Pentagon are right now deliberating on the number of troops that are to remain in the long-term after the bulk of United States forces return in 2014. The Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in the article stated that the forces needed for counterterrorism would determine the number of troops that would remain in Afghanistan.
“The number, Mr. Panetta said, will be based on how many forces are needed for counterterrorism — that is, in commando raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden — as well as for training and providing air transport and other support to the Afghan security forces.”
Panetta’s statement applies to our discussion of how the United States cannot completely leave the country for fear that it would become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda. Thus counterterrorism is the approach the United States is taking rather than counter insurgency as mentioned in class. The same problems that we concluded from President Obama’s declaration of troop removal in 2014 were discussed in this article. They said that by trying to remove troops quickly it could signal defeat and could notify your enemies when to come back. This article in the New York Times really connects to our in class discussions and proves the point that not all troops can be removed from Afghanistan as planned because they still need to fulfill their counterterrorism missions. It also proves that Afghanistan is an issue we cannot easily solve by removing troops and letting them run their own country, because there is always that potential threat of the return of American enemies into Afghanistan.
Read Full Post »
A lot of Latin American countries preferred to see Obama reelected because they see him as a steward of global affairs. Mitt Romney caused fear because of his association with the Bush administration (fiscal management and foreign affairs issues). “While the United States has been preoccupied at home and elsewhere abroad, Latin Americans (South Americans especially) have forged deeper ties with China and other players outside the hemisphere. They have also fashioned innovative anti-poverty approaches like conditional cash transfer programs. The overall result has been moderate economic growth, falling poverty rates, and, in a number of countries, declining inequality” (shifter).What has captured attention for Obama has been the Dream act yet Latin Americans want to see an immigration reform. Now that the election is over Obama could place more of his attention on passing an immigration reform which would then be favored by many Latinos. Also one of the things that troubles some countries are drugs which has to do with guns from the U.S. Obama is said not to be ready to take this on. It was also mentioned that if Romney did not have a lot of Latin American support it may be due to his comments, such as self deportation. Obama is now the president and this means that he has the opportunity to work closely with Latin American countries. He also has an opportunity to pass an immigration reform. I hope that any decision that is made is well thought of by both parties. I would not want to see something so important be done rapidly without much thought going into it. The future of people in our country is on the line so there must a well planned reform.
Read Full Post »
On Wednesday we talked about the presidential elections. I think some really interesting points were brought up. It was mentioned that the Republican Party may have to change their strategies. This is due to another Republican losing the presidential election. It was mentioned that the Republican Party may have to target the Latino vote in order to have more of a possibility to win an election. They can agree with an immigration reform, change their views on abortion or same sex marriage. It’s interesting how times have changed and this makes some change their views. The Latino vote and the vote from other ethnicities are valuable therefore I do agree with the fact that the Republican Party should change their strategy. I think it will be interesting to see what the Republican Party does next. Most of all I want to see if Obama does go through with all of the promises he has made; I want to see how the parties behave in terms of the promises. Parties will have to work together in order to avoid another financial crisis but I believe it will be important to have them work together to implement more policy change.
Read Full Post »
This week’This week our readings covered a variety of styles, approaches and organizational methods to understanding foreign policy decision making. The theories were much easier to digest and comprehend, for me personally, after listening to the guest speaker, Steve Browning on Monday. Browning’s description of his experiences in the Foreign Service made it much easier for to apply the readings to his real life perspective. Browning’s collegial style of management seemed to be an example which would have perfectly fit into the first part of the Breuning chapter 4 reading we did this week. It provided an example of the importance of the individual personality of the head decision maker and the variety and discretion that his position affords in order for individuals to find their own effective style of management. After understanding the constraints of Browning’s job and the amount of bureaucratic agencies which were involved in the decision-making in Uganda, it makes it understandable why a lot of Foreign Policy research is done on a case by case basis. What I drew most from this week’s readings and lessons is the importance of the head decision maker’s style of management and information gathering. Today’s lecture ended on the note of the Bureaucratic Politics Model, which after hearing Browning’s experiences, I cant help but agree with at least to an extent.
Read Full Post »