For real this time: 100th day of the Obama administration
It’s finally — finally!! — here, with much press fanfare: the 100th day of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. With 100 days, comes 100 day report cards. I attempted to make a list of 100 100 day report cards, and, alas failed. Nevertheless, here are some recommendations. Of course, we at FP put ...
It's finally -- finally!! -- here, with much press fanfare: the 100th day of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
With 100 days, comes 100 day report cards. I attempted to make a list of 100 100 day report cards, and, alas failed. Nevertheless, here are some recommendations. Of course, we at FP put together a report card with commentary from our favorite foreign-policy experts.
The National Security Network put up a clever 100-days post listing U.S. President Barack Obama’s first 100 foreign policy achievements. It’s a bit of fun to read and highlights some less-noted but very important achivements, like appointing an envoy to Sudan and “imploring soccer’s governing body to grant the U.S. the right to host the Cup again in 2018 or 2022.”
As a bonus, we also have two great additions to our report card.
Influential political economist and monetary policy expert Allan Meltzer gives the Obama administration a C-:
The administration has made a major effort to repair the international image that they inherited. Affect is important and possibly helpful. But it is a mistake to think that affect is what makes agreement possible. As scholars and statesmen have always known, countries have interests, and their interests dominate their decisions.
During the Cold War, the Europeans accepted American “arrogance” as the price of defense against the Soviets. When the Cold War ended, their response to U.S. initiatives and policies changed. They were unable to act against genocide and war in the Balkans. They needed the United States again.
But they are classic free riders. We protect mutual interests in Afghanistan, but most do very little. We protect their oil supplies. They do very little. Affect may get them to smile more, but it won’t get them to give up free riding.
Contrast the response in Asia. India, rarely friendly, developed much closer relations with the U.S. during the Bush years. And Japan has remained a reliable ally. The difference is they see value in having a counter-force to China. They may not believe that China is a threat, but it is a rising power in their neighborhood. They find value in having a strong ally.
I would find the Obama-Clinton policy more convincing, if they explained why they think that the Asians and the Europeans responded to the United States so differently in recent years.
Rory Stewart gives Obama a B:
I am not convinced by the troop increases in Afghanistan. Pakistan is 10 times more important than Afghanistan (it is where al Qaeda is based, it is a nuclear power, it has the potential to destabilize India). A lighter presence in Afghanistan would more accurately reflect its comparative importance for the United States and would be more acceptable in the next five years to U.S., European, and Afghan citizens.
The current increases may soon force calls for total withdrawal, which would be disastrous for us and the Afghans. We should plan for a long, patient relationship with Afghanistan and a lighter more modest footprint is a more sustainable footprint.
So: What do you think?
Photo: Flickr user Barack Obama
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