Analyzing the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 6, 2011

Courtesy of Will Inboden:

Peter Feaver’s excellent post earlier this week assessing the Obama administration’s foreign policy as a political issue argued that “where Obama has continued along policy lines laid out by Bush, he has achieved success, but where he has sought to make dramatic changes, he has failed.”

I am struck by an additional dimension of this point. Not only have Obama’s foreign policy successes have come from adopting specific Bush policies, but these successes have also come from adopting many of the strategic doctrines of the Bush administration. I doubt my Democratic friends will like to hear this, but it bears noting for the record and as a cautionary tale against campaign hubris. Bush administration strategic principles that were either disparaged or disregarded by candidate Obama have now been embraced by Obama.

See the post for a list of those doctrines. Inboden continues with a discussion of why it is important to note the many ways that the Obama Administration has adopted the foreign policy of the Bush Administration, including the following observation:

. . . with campaign season upon us, this is a final fleeting opportunity to demonstrate bipartisanship. Obama’s euphoric campaign promises to unite the nation and pursue bipartisanship are just nostalgic memories of dashed hopes. Unfortunately, as Pete Wehner has ably documented, the president has followed a partisan and divisive domestic and economic agenda with a campaign strategy questioning the patriotism of Republicans. Foreign policy represents Obama’s last legitimate opportunity to demonstrate genuine bipartisanship, and a gracious acknowledgement of his agreement with Bush’s strategic principles would be a great place to start.

Of course, it is too much to hope that the Obama Administration will admit that it has taken much of its foreign policy inspiration from the Bush Administration. Doing so would cause all of the Bush-haters who remain in Team Obama’s camp to abandon the President right before the election season begins in earnest. And for Team Obama, winning re-election is vastly more important than is being candid and upfront in discussing the intellectual debt the Obama Administration owes to its predecessor when it comes to foreign policy.

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