Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

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.


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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.


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Ch 3 Iraq

There were many important points in chapter three but I wanted to talk about some in the Iraq section. Obama started his campaign on anti-Iraq platform. Obama was young enough to pick when to run for president and in 2007 his views were aligned with the Democratic party. One of his main promises was that he wanted to get all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within sixteen months of inauguration. It was said that Obama got lucky because just as he was winning the general election the military situation in Iraq got better. By having general Odierno and secretary of defense Gates, Obama decided to keep troops into 2011. This meant they would be there during the elections in Iraq. It was said that towards the end of 2011 Iraq was making progress through its security and government. Through this it was emphasized that Biden had the help of Obama when he needed him for any serious matter. Violence has gone down since 2006 and 2007. The Obama administration still has work to do because there are still bombings and killings that continue to take place. The section ended by saying that Obama needs to focus on Iraq. Regardless of what has been done there this is a part of the world that still needs to improve its conditions.

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With the re-election of President Obama, we will most likely see the exit of US troops from Afghanistan well before his second term is over.  But, what are the implications of our exodus from Central Asia?  Will we just continue to step up counter-terrorism campaigns centered on drone warfare?  Or will we need to have a greater troop presence beyond the Obama administration’s target of 2014?

Yesterday,  Gen. Joe Dunford appeared before the Senate Armed Forces Committee as the sole nominee to become the top military leader for the US forces in Afghanistan.  He testified that it is his belief that US forces need to stay the course until the job is done, beyond 2015 if necessary.  Here is some key insight into Gen. Joe Dunford’s outlook on the war:

“I agree that there will be further troop reductions through 2014 but the pace of withdrawal over the next 25 months will depend on several variables, including progress of the campaign, the state of the insurgency, and the readiness of the ANSF [Afghan National Security Force] to assume full security leadership and responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014,”

Key to this position was also that Dunford was left out of the talks of troop reductions! This certainly shocked Sen. John McCain in the proceedings, who is naturally a critic of the Obama administration’s position for the War in Afghanistan (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/joseph-dunford-afghan-war-troops_n_2138741.html).

This makes me wonder, can the US really reverse the trend in Afghanistan?  that trend is, of course, that Afghanistan is the place where empires go to die.  Yes, it was a good move to pursue those responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Any country would have done the same to prevent future security concerns.  But, Realists are certainly reeling that we have been in Afghanistan for more than a decade.  What is this really doing for our own security?  I do not believe that the US, especially the US military has the capability to engage in the kinds of institution-building measures that are required to have a successful legacy in Afghanistan.  Human security goes beyond just protecting from violent regimes, it is ensuring access to clean water, nutrition, education, and healthcare.  If we are to have a positive impact in this region, and maintain our own “empire” (yes, this word is still pretty pertinent to thinking about the USA), we need to extend the spectrum beyond smashing and breaking things…

Here is the full story from the FP website:


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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.




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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.


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Image                                                                                                     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.

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