Daniel W. Drezner

The foreign policy Obama promised

Ezra Klein makes an interesting point regarding the health care plan that will likely emerge from Congress:  that it pretty much matches what Obama the candidate promised in his health care plan (hat tip:   Sullivan).   I bring this up because when you think about Barack Obama’s foreign policy, you come to a very similar ...

Ezra Klein makes an interesting point regarding the health care plan that will likely emerge from Congress:  that it pretty much matches what Obama the candidate promised in his health care plan (hat tip:   Sullivan).  

I bring this up because when you think about Barack Obama’s foreign policy, you come to a very similar conclusion.   It’s a useful exercise to re-read Obama’s July 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, "Renewing American Leadership," and compare it to Obama’s first year as foreign policymaker-in-chief.  In the essay, he emphasized the following: 

  • A drawdown of forces in Iraq;
  • An enhanced effort in Afghanistan;
  • Close cooperation with Russia, paticularly on arms control;
  • A willingness to talk to adversaries, but not just talking for talking’s sake;
  • Restoring America’s standing in the world.

Not everything has been implemented — his foreign aid pledges won’t materialize, and the Middle East peace process remains an oxymoron.  It’s nevertheless quite striking how much Obama’s first year of foreign policy outputs matches the blueprint he sketched out as a candidate.  The only exception I can think of is homeland security. 

By the by, it’s also the case that the issues he didn’t emphasize — like trade, for example — have pretty much gone nowhere. 

Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on your view of the policy content.  Still, one would be hard-pressed to argue that on foreign policy, Obama the president has deviated from what he set out to do as a candidate. 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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