Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Obama Administration Foreign Policy

This subject was discussed on October 14, 2013.

The attached article, located by one of the active Beyond Labels participants, examines the possibility that the Obama administration “may have strayed into the radical reforging of American foreign policy.” The author, Graham Fuller, is a former colleague of another participant.

This week’s topic will be to examine that assertion in the context of current events. To the extent we have time, we will also discuss the latest goings-on in Washington, DC. It’s been an eventful week!

20130930 Has Obama (Inadvertently) Broken the Mold in US Foreign Policy


  • I’ll be interested to have Bob S. provide more background on Mr. Fuller, his background and his views. I agree with many of Fuller’s points…as articulated in the last paragraph. Of course, I think Ron Paul likely agrees with this as well!
    My reaction to the article is fivefold:
    1) I think many would agree with his questioning (rejecting?) the “traditional nostrums.” There seems to be a ground swell from both ends of the political spectrum against being the “world’s policeman” and acting unilaterally. So that part may be less controversial than Mr. Fuller seems to imply. I suspect he’s setting up a “paper tiger” (a caricature of Dick Cheney?) to tear down in order to bolster his point. Or maybe that’s the way a lot of folks in DC think.
    2) I sense that Mr. Fuller’s comments about the other side, are more directed at the GOP than “liberal interventionists.” Maybe I’m being too sensitive.
    3) For a CIA guy, his views seem particularly US-centric. It will be interesting to see how other countries feel about a US policy guided more by a strong predilection to working through the UN and unwilling to intervene when the UN process fails or is blocked by a Security Council veto. Israel would certainly not be thrilled with this policy shift (as Fuller notes). How about the other US “allies” around the world? The Philippines, Japan, and Georgia, to name a few countries, all appear to face aggressive neighbors and appear to rely (at least in part) on US support. How would the world landscape change if the extent of US support were limited to speeches at the UN…particularly if the (believed) aggressors have a Security Council veto? Will there be an uproar from abroad? Or applause? From whom?
    4) I agree with his conclusions, but I don’t credit the Obama Administration for anything but following the polls. Who brought us to the “brink of war” with Syria in the first place? Who drew the “red line?” Who has failed to articulate the compelling US national security interest in the outcome of the Syrian civil war? It is the American people who are tired of intervention in far-off places for uncertain reasons with ambiguous results (other than the cost in American “blood and treasure”).
    5) Most importantly for our national posture, it won’t be clear whether stepping back from the “nostrums” will actually work. It begs the question…has the post-WW II US policy been a “force for good?” Or just a “force?” What will happen if we relinquish our role to the UN or others? Is this policy naive to the extent that it is predicated on beliefs that:
    a) US intervention and policy has not, net-net, advanced the cause of world peace and human rights
    b) Second- and third-order effects of seemingly remote turmoil abroad will not significantly affect vital US security interests
    c) The UN and the “world community” can act as an effective enforcer of “universal human rights” against the most egregious violators and the US role was somewhere between superfluous and counterproductive
    d) The US should submit (wholly? partially?) to the international bodies (UN, International Court of Justice, World Bank, IMF) it helped create

    • Scott,
      Nicely constructed comments. Add to #4): Who ran on the “necessary” war in Afghanistan? Who advocated the intervention in Libya, including the yet unknown role of the CIA activities in Benghazi (but lacked a plan for dealing with the consequent Islamist insurgency in Mali)? Who has had a strikingly ambivalent Syrian policy (touting Bashar Assad as a “reformer” then “he had to go” but now he can stay a little while as long as he kills his opponents properly)? Who in his foreign policy decisions has acted without Congressional, U.N. or NATO acquiescence? Who dramatically escalated the U.S. drone strike policy? Who, in concert with “neoconservatives and hawks” and contrary to the Ron/Rand Paul wing, is defending expanded NSA surveillance on the U.S. public? The President has not articulated Fuller’s prescient reforging of American foreign policy because he has literally been all over the map. Is it only “progressives” who are capable of perceiving this stealth “wisdom and rationality”?

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