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In our own hemisphere, the opening to Cuba removed a long-time obstacle to effective U. In Europe and the Middle East, Obama believed he was opening space for local leadership that failed to materialize. Elites in traditional allied nations, from Poland and Germany to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, saw the same choices as reflecting an Administration insufficiently engaged.

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Looking back now, eight years of a new approach was hardly enough to undo 60 years of expectations of how the United States would behave, not to mention 60 years of politics and planning in other societies that depended on Washington behaving as it always had. Obama has pointed out to Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg that he fully expects to be alive in 25 years when longer-range judgments can be made—and that he anticipates they will be favorable. This same assumption seems to have informed decisions to make key policies by executive action rather than to invest the political capital needed to put them into laws and treaties—from the rules governing targeted killing to the Paris Climate Accords to the slowness in dismantling the Bush-era system of registering visitors to the United States by religion.

And this assumption rested on another one: that Obama, such a talented communicator, could sell his approach to both American and global publics.

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However, here too, results were mixed. Yet Obama had difficulty hanging onto those majorities who, in theory, should have been supportive of his policies—much less in support of his party on national security and foreign affairs. Jump to navigation.

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As November's U. President Barack Obama is running on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while demonstrating toughness against al Qaeda.


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His Republican opponents charge him with presiding over the United States' decline and demonstrating fecklessness on Iran. The true story is somewhat more complicated than either side admits.

Obama’s Flawed Foreign Policy : Democracy Journal

When Obama was sworn into office in January , he had already developed an activist vision of his foreign policy destiny. He would refurbish the United States' image abroad, especially in the Muslim world; end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; offer an outstretched hand to Iran; "reset" relations with Russia as a step toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons; elicit Chinese cooperation on regional and global issues; and make peace in the Middle East.

By his own account, Obama sought nothing less than to bend history's arc in the direction of justice and a more peaceful, stable world. There was inevitable tension between Obama's soaring rhetoric and desire for fundamental change, on the one hand, and his instinct for governing pragmatically, on the other.

Barack Obama's mixed legacy on US foreign policy

Policy on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, has reflected serious flaws in both strategy andexecution. Afghanistan policy has been plagued by inconsistent messaging and teamwork. On important "softer" security issues from energy and climate policy to problems in Africa and Mexico the record is mixed. As for his early aspiration to reshape the international order, according greater roles and responsibilities to rising powers, Obama's efforts have been well-conceived but of limited effectiveness. On issues of secondary importance, Obama has been disciplined in avoiding fruitless disputes as with Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba and insisting that others take the lead as with Qaddafi in Libya.

Bending History

Notwithstanding several missteps, he has generally managed well the complex challenges of the Arab awakenings, striving to strike the right balance between U. The authors see Obama's foreign policy to date as a triumph of discipline and realism over ideology. He has been neither the transformative beacon his devotees have wanted, nor the weak apologist for America that his critics allege. They conclude that his grand strategy for promoting American interests in a tumultuous world may only now be emerging, and may yet be curtailed by conflict with Iran. Most of all, they argue thathe or his successor will have to embrace U.