Obama's Foreign Policy Spells America's Decline

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Foreign Policy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What might Machiavelli have made of the 44th President of the United States? Barack Obama set out to change the tone of US foreign policy. And he did. By virtue of his personal story, by dint of his not being George W. Bush, he arrived in the White House as both object of fascination and source of relief to a world grown accustomed to resenting the US itself. Here is a president who acknowledges that we hold no monopoly on the legitimacy of our interests, who aspires to finding the common ground in resolving disagreements with friend and foe. His caution, his deliberativeness, his stated willingness to at least try to negotiate even with our bitterest enemies and to cool down the rhetoric – played so well out of the gate, that they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize – after just 262 days in office. But is love enough to lead? Or might the president need some wins along the way? For the most part, they’ve been hard to come by. None yet in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Iran’s mullah’s don’t seem to feel an urgent need to end the nuclear standoff. Seeking a new balance in America’s dealings in the Middle East, Obama asked Israel to stop building settlements, but the building goes on. And the Chinese seem to understand his less than aggressive stance in pressing for human rights as a green light to change nothing. Even when the stakes were less than life and death – his bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago – he was denied. Not that any of this is easy. And it may be that some of these more serious challenges would by now be more difficult still if Obama had not set a new tone. But might the opposite be true? Might our adversaries see the president’s coolness as uncertainty and his deliberativeness as weakness? Can they exploit his affinity for common ground, by pushing to gain more ground for themselves? By acknowledging that all sides can have legitimate interests, as well as legitimate grievances, is the president yielding the high ground? Most importantly, are we safer now that we are living in the era of president number 44? It comes down to being respected, which is not the same as being liked. Americans have always aspired to have it both ways. Machiavelli would have us choose.

  • For the motion

    For

    Dan Senor

    Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

  • For the motion

    For

    Mort Zuckerman

    Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report

  • Against the Motion

    Against

    Bernard-Henri Lévy

    Author of American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Wesley Clark

    Four-star General as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

  • Moderator Image

    Moderator

    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

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Senor

For The Motion

Dan Senor

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

an expert on Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and Middle East and Persian Gulf geopolitics, security, and economics, is adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Senor is an analyst for Fox News and a founding partner of Rosemont Capital. From 2003 to 2004, Senor served as a Pentagon and White House advisor based in Doha, Qatar at U.S. Central Command Forward, and later based in Kuwait and Iraq, where he worked for both the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). He was chief spokesman and senior advisor for the Coalition.

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Mort Zuckerman

For The Motion

Mort Zuckerman

Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report

is the chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report and is the publisher of the New York Daily News. He is also the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Boston Properties Inc. and a regular commentator on The McLaughlin Group.

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Clark

Against The Motion

Wesley Clark

Four-star General as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

served thirty-four years in the United States Army and rose to the rank of four-star general as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. After his retirement in 2000, he became an investment banker, author, commentator, and businessman. In previous duty, General Clark was the commander-in-chief, US Southern Command. From April 1994 through June 1996, he was the director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, in the Joint Staff, where he helped negotiate the end to the war in Bosnia. General Clark serves as chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates and as a senior fellow at UCLA's Burkle Center for International Relations.

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Bernard Henri Levy

Against The Motion

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Author of American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

a French philosopher and writer, is the author of New York Times bestseller American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville. His last book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, and Public Enemies, a book of correspondence co-written with Michel Houellebecq, will be published by Random House in 2010. Last month Foreign Policy magazine ranked BHL 3Ist among the 100 Top Global Thinkers.

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Declared Winner: Against The Motion

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    1 comment

    • Comment Link Al Dorman Tuesday, 22 October 2013 11:06 posted by Al Dorman

      3.5 years after the risible and disgraceful Dan Senor predicted that "Iran will have a nuclear weapon in 2-3 years," the chicken-hawk liar is still wrong!

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