President Obama's First Year: 'U.S. Foreign Policy Under New Management'

So, as the president seeks to increase goodwill toward America and create new and stronger partnerships, the key question is what did he actually accomplish?

Not much, said the Council on Foreign Relations' Lindsay.

"While engagement has garnered a lot of applause -- it won him a Nobel Peace Prize -- it has not led to any breakthroughs on the tough issues he had inherited coming into office," Lindsay said.

On issues such as Guantanamo and Afghanistan, Obama has faced many of the same obstacles as his predecessor. Despite its rhetoric and overtures, the Obama administration has found it difficult to convince countries to take in Guantanamo detainees cleared for release. Today's deadline for closing the facility will be missed.

Likewise, in Afghanistan, Obama's requests for additional troops from other countries has been met with much of the same skepticism and reluctance that greeted Bush when he met with allies.

Despite the effort to "reset" relations with Russia, the two countries missed a Dec. 5 deadline to renegotiate a key nuclear arms reduction agreement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters this week that talks would resume in February.

On the eve of the administration's one year anniversary, scholars at the Brookings Institution think-tank gave Obama an A- grade in leadership in facing transnational threats in the past year, in part citing his efforts to make up for lost time under the Bush administration.

But Lindsay said that in the view of the Obama administration, engagement with allies is "not a magic bullet" but if it doesn't produce results, the United States will be stronger because allies will be more willing to lend support.

"The United States was going to move diplomacy back to the forefront of American foreign policy," he said.

To the Obama administration, "speaking to our adversaries is not a sign of weakness but a way to accomplish tangible American foreign policy interests."

Domestic Issues Overtake Foreign Policy Agenda in Election Year

If year one was "The Year of the Word," year two will be about results, Lindsay said.

"You can only talk about what you plan to do for so long and then you have to talk about what you're going to deliver," he said.

The challenge for the White House will be how to move forward on critical foreign policy issues such as the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, disarmament talks with Russia and continuing to fight two wars, when the focus at home will be so heavily centered on domestic policy.

Legislation is always a challenge in an election year. With 10 months until the mid-term elections, the president has acknowledged that voters are upset.

"People are angry and they are frustrated," Obama told ABC News last week. "Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."

The president will have a full plate with just his domestic agenda -- job creation, health care overhaul and energy legislation -- and experts say that that will put foreign policy on the backburner.

Foreign policy progress "seldom provides big sustained political benefits for a president," Lindsay said. "It takes a lot of time and is not likely to move voters to go and vote."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9592971.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The fake baby a man was carrying as he and another woman tried to sneak into the mother and baby unit at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., hospital officials said.
Dignity Health Security/Mercy Medical Center Merced
PHOTO:
dpa, Jens Wolf/AP Photo
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
PHOTO: Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the Smithsonians National Zoo, Aug. 23, 2014.
David Galen, Smithsonians National Zoo