Obama’s Foreign Policy Priorities

 Debate word cloud from Flickr user EricaJoy, used under Creative Commons license.

Debate word cloud from Flickr user EricaJoy, used under Creative Commons license.

Over at New Atlanticist, we’ve been running a series all week on the Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next President.

In addition to my introductory post, we’ve run installments by Elizabeth Jones, a retired U.S. career ambassador whose posts included Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia, former Saloman Smith Barney managing director Ronald Freeman, Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe, former RAND Europe president and NSC official David Gompert, and former NATO ambassador Robert Hunter.  A contribution from two-time National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft is awaiting final approval.

My boss, Council president and CEO Fred Kempe, tells Deutsche Welle that Barack Obama will improve transatlantic ties (which, frankly, won’t be hard) but that he’s got to hit the ground running to manage several inherited and looming crises all at once.  Writing with Bob Hutchings in Foreign Policy, he argues that Obama would be advised to follow Dwight Eisenhower’s dictum, “If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it” and create a Global Grand Bargain.

As for myself, I see Obama’s chief tasks as follows:

  1. Gain Credibility.
  2. Rebuild World Financial Institutions.
  3. Redefine the War on Terrorism.
  4. Recalibrate Transatlantic Relations.
  5. Establish Pragmatic Realism.

I outline what I mean by these here.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, National Security, US Politics, World Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Derrick says:

    I would broaden Kempe’s approach and suggest that an Obama Administration has to make sure that they multi-task on Foreign policy. One of Bush’s biggest failures has been his inability to focus on more than one or two problems at a time. Iraq or Iran or the Economy can’t be Obama’s focus for more than a month or so at a time. His administration needs to truly figure out a way to manage these issues in a way that allows them to be fully engaged on multiple fronts. He ignores Western Europe, South and Central America and other seemingly more minor issues at his peril.




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  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Derrick, looks to me Bush was able to multitask. Iraq, Afghanistan, N. Korea, Middle East pease with Israel and the Palistinians, trying to extend trade with Colombia, dealing with various disasters around the world, Aids in Africa. Not all were successes, but all have been addressed. Your BDS lets you sell this excellent President short. After all, how many people expected to be attacked again after 9/11? Disappointed?




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  3. Triumph says:

    As for myself, I see Obama’s chief tasks as follows:

    1. Gain Credibility.
    2. Rebuild World Financial Institutions.
    3. Redefine the War on Terrorism.
    4. Recalibrate Transatlantic Relations.
    5. Establish Pragmatic Realism.

    Those are sensible recommendations–However, lets remember that it is more likely that his first task will be to change the US into an Islamic Republic and be a figurehead for Kenyan dictator Adewale Ogunleye.




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  4. tom p says:

    What is NATO’s mission?

    I have been troubled by the seemingly willy-nilly expansion of NATO for some time. NATO’s original mission was as a counterbalance to the USSR and the Warsaw Pact nations. With the end of them, NATO suddenly became something of an empty vessel into which more and more nations were poured diluting even further any shared purpose that existed after the collapse of the USSR.

    Did we really want to go to war with Russia after they were provoked into an invasion by Georgia? Never mind the rightness or wrongness of Russia’s response, Saakashvilli (sp?) knew their actions would provoke Russia.

    Do we really want to be “big brother” to all of the worlds little “pip-squeeks” who pick fights they can’t win?




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  5. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Tom P: indeed, in light of today’s NYT story, the whole “we are all Georgians” response looks even more half-cocked than ever. We don’t need minor semidictatorships in NATO. It does not serve our interests. Only long-standing stable governments of major nations belong in NATO.

    “Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question”




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  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    As for myself, I see Obama’s chief tasks as follows:

    1. Gain Credibility.
    2. Rebuild World Financial Institutions.
    3. Redefine the War on Terrorism.
    4. Recalibrate Transatlantic Relations.
    5. Establish Pragmatic Realism.

    You sound like Maya Angelou at the 1993 Clinton inauguration.

    You left out a couple of other things;
    A Sock Hop and Magic Show at the United Nations.
    The weenie roast with the Islamic terrorists.
    And the opening of a personal checking account; you have to put more in than you take out.
    And there was that thing about being a “Rock” whatever the hell that that meant.




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  7. Michael says:

    The weenie roast with the Islamic terrorists.

    I wonder which would be more offensive, pork hot dogs or kosher ones….




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  8. tom p says:

    Michael: Pork hot dogs, shaped like weenies… with lots of mayo




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  9. Michael says:

    Michael: Pork hot dogs, shaped like weenies… with lots of mayo

    I don’t care who your god is, that’s just wrong.




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  10. Anderson says:

    Gain Credibility.
    Rebuild World Financial Institutions.
    Redefine the War on Terrorism.
    Recalibrate Transatlantic Relations.
    Establish Pragmatic Realism.

    And you seriously thought JOHN MCCAIN was the candidate better able to accomplish these, or more willing to attempt to do so?

    [Shakes head in disbelief.]




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  11. tom p says:

    I don’t care who your god is, that’s just wrong.

    ergo, isn’t it obvious that I am just a godless heathen?




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  12. James Joyner says:

    And you seriously thought JOHN MCCAIN was the candidate better able to accomplish these, or more willing to attempt to do so?

    I thought it was pretty close to a wash on foreign policy. I preferred McCain’s tenacity and experience and Obama’s temperament. With McCain, though, you at least knew what you were getting whereas Obama was amazingly good at being All Things to All People.

    Presidents have domestic policies, too, and I’d have much rather had McCain appointing Supreme Court justices, leading tax policy, and the rest.

    Beyond that, I’d prefer a Republican president with fiscal conservative tendencies to restrain a Democratic congress rather than a Democratic president and a Democratic congress.




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  13. Brett says:

    Keep in mind, though, that it has generally been Republican Presidencies under which the deficit and debt have greatly expanded as of late. The Democrats spend a lot, but they usually temper it with greater taxation (which is why even the massive spending and debt accumulated by the New Deal and World War II was tempered and ameliorated, along with that of the Great Society).

    As for NATO – ultimately, I think we need to turn over the security in the region to the Europeans themselves. This isn’t like East Asia or the Middle East, where our power can provide security by keeping the places from devolving into regional arms races – the Europeans are capable of funding either a joint EU military force, or their own separate forces (or funding each other’s military forces – like if the Western Europeans underwrote the costs of the Polish Army).




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  14. anjin-san says:

    I preferred McCain’s tenacity and experience

    The experience that led him to select Palin? Hard to divorce that from his qualification to lead the country…




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  15. Anderson says:

    McCain’s tenacity

    “Persistence in error,” one might say.

    Tho I’m reminded of his alleged joke about the difference b/t a pit bull and Palin: the pit bull eventually lets go.




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  16. tom p says:

    Beyond that, I’d prefer a Republican president with fiscal conservative tendencies to restrain a Democratic congress rather than a Democratic president and a Democratic congress.

    James, I think you got that backwards… I mean, isn’t that what we had with Reagan and Tip? It worked out much better with a DEM President, and a GOP congress (Clinton and Newt).




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  17. Eneils Bailey says:

    Could we change the selection of weenies for the Islamic Terrorist’s to goat weenies.

    Hey, all you folks out there, goat weenies offend anyone?

    Don’t get me wrong, a few years ago, I spent time in the Middle East.

    Lot’s of pig weenies out there.

    You get hungry, you would eat shit.

    And don’t flatter yourself by wrapping yourself up in the idea that American food could be sourced on demand.

    Again, if you get really hungry, my dear, you will eat shit.




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  18. Brett says:

    Could we change the selection of weenies for the Islamic Terrorist’s to goat weenies.

    Do you actually plan on making a positive contribution at some point, or would you prefer to continue posting meaningless spam?




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  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    The experience that led him to select Palin? Hard to divorce that from his qualification to lead the country…

    Well first Obama picked himself and then he picked the four letter wonder Joe Biden, so whats your point for the 600th time?

    Gain Credibility.-lol, he is Credibility!

    Rebuild World Financial Institutions.-Yes damn it, you will see communism will work this time!!!

    Redefine the War on Terrorism.-He apologizes then pays reparations?

    Recalibrate Transatlantic Relations.-He can hold a
    yearly concert series so that the communists and socialists can worship him in person, that should do it. you know like the Pope, but even better!!!

    Establish Pragmatic Realism.-instrument for adapting to reality and controlling it, Check, he is the ONE!!!!!!




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  20. tom p says:

    Establish Pragmatic Realism.-instrument for adapting to reality and controlling it,

    GA… as opposed to Bush who adapted Reality to his way of thinking and still couldn’t control it(read Iraq)? No, time will tell whether Obama is able to adapt to reality or not (either way, I think he knows he can not control it, history will say if I am right or wrong)

    Brett: Eneils has his own way of contributing, one I very much appreciate (read his posts on Byrd)….

    Eneils… While I haven’t eaten sh*t, I have eaten goat, and I thought it tasted like sh*t. Maybe it just wasn’t cooked right? Either way, from the looks of the economy, I will soon again eat stuff that tastes like sh*t. Oh well,…




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