Third Party & Independents Archives

Teasing Out Obama's Foreign Policy

At the Belfer Center, in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, a recent guest speaker was Jake Sullivan, current senior advisor on the Iran Nuclear Negotiations. In case you thought Obama’s foreign policy was rudderless, Jake Sullivan helped put it all in perspective for students and fellows. Obama’s policy response has been to “rebuild, rebalance, and reshape.” In other words, there are deep and encompassing objectives he has in mind when he stumbles from one crisis to another. You just might not be able to see them if you are not lucky enough to be a Harvard scholar or student. Let’s see if it is possible to tease out their layers of meaning.


If rebuilding is an objective, say in Iraq, how does that get achieved with massive troop withdrawals and the rise of ISIS? What confidence can local partners, who live in volatile and dangerous societies with factions often one step from open warfare, have in the White House's commitment to their region? Rebuilding is tough work and requires the ability to stay focused, and like justice, it must be seen that you are staying focused by both allies and enemies.

The Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI; a UK think tank, released a paper describing America as cautious hegemony rebalancing towards East Asia. In other words, Obama wants to focus primarily on China and to essentially leave the Middle East as a secondary focus point in terms US international strategy. In Obama's words, spoken in 2011, the US was going to pivot to "where the action's going to be." Nice call Mr. President. You might want to rethink that game plan. Of course, part of that plan is to have European allies take up more of the slack. The UK might, but having France play a major role in Middle East and North Africa policy is just a tad unsettling. Obama seems to be caught between events on the ground and his grand rebalancing scheme. A self-made no-man's-land perhaps.

Reshaping means Japan and in the words of Jamie Fuller writing in the Washington Post back in April, "Japan's morphing role in the region." That essentially means Japan starting to shed it's post WW II pacifist stance and to seriously re-arm itself. While China's rise as an economic and military power is continuous and alarming in many ways, cooperating with a re-armed Japan requires depth and steadiness in foreign policy implementation and execution. How a re-armed Japan would behave in the near future involves some uncertainty and needs both wisdom and strength, real and perceived, on the part of the president. And that means a little less whining at Harvard about how tough the Middle East is by advisors like Jake Sullivan, and a little more consistency and clarity from the White House. That may be too much too ask.

Posted by AllardK at November 26, 2014 1:32 AM
Comments
Comment #386224

The game changer right now, for both domestic and foreign policy, is happening right before our eyes, and it barely being noticed.

Oil prices have dropped even more. They are now down in to the $60’s. A lot of the shale oil fields lose money at these prices. One of the biggest, the Bakken oil field in ND, has a break-even of $73. If anyone wants to look at the particular:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-17/oil-is-cheap-but-not-so-cheap-that-americans-won-t-profit-from-it.html

The Saudis have decided to crush alternative energy competitors and oil producers. Say Buh-Bye to the Keystone Pipeline. They also benefit from denying Iran and ISIS oil revenues. They can keep doing this for years, if they want, in order to keep market share and kill competition. It is entirely plausible that we will see oil prices under $50, and soon.

Gas prices are plummeting, which will be a huge boon to the economy. You’re welcome, Obama! It’s not all roses though, because the economies of states like TX and ND are about to take huge hits.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2014 4:25 PM
Comment #386240

ND oil production will be able to operate for a while, but if the Saudi’s continue to try to break American oil production, the US companies will simply cap the wells. But the Saudi’s will not be able to do it for long, they need for the price to go back up.

Secondly, the drop in oil prices will not help our economy very much. We don’t use crude; we use gasoline and diesel; but since the democrats and the EPA have not allowed new refineries to be built in decades, we still import gas and diesel.

Thirdly, you sound happy that Texas and ND economies may be hit hard.

And lastly, you can claim that Obama is to credit for the boost in the economy due to oil production, but the only one to believe that are other leftist idiots like yourself. The rest of the country knows Obama and his EPA have done everything they could to cut production of oil, the Keystone pipeline is an example. He has cut the use of Federal lands and offshore drilling. It is private enterprise on private lands and in states that have allowed drilling and fracking that have been the cause of the oil production. Go spread you bullshit someplace else.

Posted by: George at November 28, 2014 7:29 PM
Comment #386246

George,
Oil wells can be capped, but it is risky, because once capped, a well may not come back online once uncapped. No one wants to cap a well unless absolutely forced to do so.

” We don’t use crude; we use gasoline and diesel…”
Hate to tell you this, but gasoline comes from light sweet crude, and diesel comes from oil too.

“… since the democrats and the EPA have not allowed new refineries to be built in decades, we still import gas and diesel.”

We do not build more refineries for a simple reason; we do not need more refineries. We already have enough refining capacity, and because of increased efficiency, we now actually refine much more oil than we used to, even though the number of refineries is about the same That is not the issue. Notice the way oil prices are dropping? It has nothing whatsoever to do with refining capacity.

“… you sound happy that Texas and ND economies may be hit hard.”

Here is what I wrote: ” It’s not all roses though, because the economies of states like TX and ND are about to take huge hits.”

The phrase “It’s not all roses…” does not suggest happiness; just the opposite. Roses are a good thing. An example of a good thing is the national economy booming. ‘Not’ roses is a bad thing, as in local economies going bust.

“The rest of the country knows Obama and his EPA have done everything they could to cut production of oil, the Keystone pipeline is an example. He has cut the use of Federal lands and offshore drilling.”

And yet, the price of oil is dropping fast.

“It is private enterprise on private lands and in states that have allowed drilling and fracking that have been the cause of the oil production.”

And yet, the price of oil is dropping so much, those private enterprises are about to close down drilling.

“Go spread you bullshit someplace else.”

Before saying things like this, you might want to spend a few minutes doing research. Since you posted on WB, you presumably have access to search engines. Read up. It will avoid embarrassing mistakes like not understanding where gasoline comes from.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2014 8:10 PM
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