'These are not easy times for US foreign policy... Visits by Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan and by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns to Egypt have highlighted the complex dilemmas facing policy makers. As usual, the Administration faces domestic headwinds. For example, the vote in the House of Representatives to tighten oil sanctions on Iran cuts across some emergent thinking in the White House that the installation of a new government in Tehran may provide the opportunity for more productive talks on nuclear issues. Additionally, the appointment of a new special envoy (AIPAC's Martin Indyk) for the Middle East peace negotiations signals State Department engagement in this notoriously intractable nexus of issues. Given that the US governance system means that progress on foreign policy ultimately depends on how deeply the president involves himself in backing any initiatives, a frequent question in Washington focuses on President Obama’s commitment to foreign policy execution. There is no doubt that Obama is actively engaged in telephone diplomacy with foreign leaders and that he is extremely well briefed on the broad issues of the day, but there is less evidence that he is actively participating in the more detailed policy consideration. As one former senior Presidential foreign policy adviser mentioned privately to us recently: “My sense is that Obama is excellent at setting goals through fine speeches, but is less interested in the executive aspects of making foreign policy work.” It is thus an open question whether Obama is ready to pay a political price in order to realize a foreign policy objective, for example by putting real pressure on Israel. As he faces new battles with the Republicans on government spending, immigration and healthcare, our assessment is that he will prefer a quiet life in terms of foreign policy. He will play for time on issues like Syria and Iran, rather than seeking to provoke a crisis.'
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
"Obama is excellent at setting goals through fine speeches, but is less interested in the executive aspects of making foreign policy work."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:17 AM