4 Feb 2016

The implications of Obama's foreign policy

Interesting article by someone who asserts the Obama has displayed rare gamesmanship in fixing the potentials for global leadership in the decades to come.

Nothing I can add at this point, other than to say this game, once called 'The Great Game', is not new....

'Obama has been systematic in his reconstruction of US foreign policy: first of all pulling the United States out of the Middle East, second of all repairing the damage from misguided CIA covert operations, the three most disastrous [of which] alienated Cuba, Burma and Iran. Through bilateral diplomacy [the US] has systematically repaired relations with those three very important mid-range countries, most dramatically through the nuclear deal with Iran.

'Broader than that, Obama has come up with a strategy of splitting China's would-be world island, that unified Eurasian landmass, through two really bold treaties. One is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which if it goes through ... will split the eastern half of the Eurasian landmass, the Pacific littoral countries, those 12 nations that have about 40 per cent of world gross product, and shift that towards the United States.

'There's a longer-term one that Obama has started, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, that seeks to split the other half of the Eurasian landmass, the European Union, and redirect it towards the United States. That's Obama's counter to China's economic move to unify the world island.'

The article is found here.


  1. IMO, Obama had on-the-job training in foreign policy, his strength (progressive domestic) blocked at every turn from the day he took office, forced him into one of the few areas that opposition meddling
    had less effect. We concede he inherited serious problems in both areas. Refreshingly, Obama is one of those administrators who thinks
    things through and has not been prone to impulsive acts or spur of the moment decisions. IMO, his main foreign policy decisions have been based on discontinuing the worn out American habit of throwing
    bombers and troops at any and every hot spot; attempting instead to
    cut through the built up biases and communicate diplomatically with
    troubled nations. At a minimum, whether judged successful or not, he
    has engaged international problems in a more grown up manner than his
    recent predecessors. As for the author's judgement about Kissinger, I agree and raise! He caused far more problems than he solved and basically was a Nixon sycophant, more interested in himself than his

    1. BB, thanks for the comment

      Yes, I personally have a fairly positive view of Obama’s foreign policy based on his avoidance of mass American casualties in poorly conceived adventures, his unwillingness to be manipulated by regional players, and his long view of things.

      If Obama had not been president the US would likely have been sucked into more crippling quagmires in the Middle-east. One of the dangers of that is that the US would then be less able and willing to intercede elsewhere.
      I don’t remember a time when North East Asia was this ripe for an incident. I have major concerns about that.

      Islamic State is a radical Sunni movement and the pre-eminent Shia power is Iran. Iran is Russia’s ally. Having any window into dialogue with Iran is a major opportunity. If we are very lucky that relationship could be transformed in the years to come.

      One of the comments under the article talks belligerently about Putin.
      I feel that Putin and Obama together present asymmetric directions of leadership, and one doesn’t know quite how to gauge the other because they are such vastly different men. Far from Putin having his teeth into Obama I think Putin is always a little bit off-balance.
      He knew how to play Bush.

      The coming of a boisterous China is something we’ve all known about as an issue for this century.
      In Australia we felt Obama’s pivot to the Asia Pacific region acutely.
      Politically and militarily we are America’s close ally, and also Japan’s, but our economy is dependent on China. It’s quite the diplomatic tightrope. To have Obama point in this direction and say ‘that area is key’ has meant a lot to us.

  2. Magpie, here's an article by McCoy that might interest you. I've got to go back and re-read it now. As a liberal, I was supposed to have a knee-jerk opposition to the TPP. It was nice to read this and see some of the reasoning behind it.

    President Obama has made many moves that will, I hope, bear fruit in the future. The opening to Cuba was at least a few decades overdue. Reconciling with Iran may be as well. It's comforting to know that our foreign relations are in the hands of this president and the people around him rather than John McCain or Mitt Romney and a gaggle of neocons.

    I'd be happy to see our country walk back the empire a bit. I realize we still have a large role to play in the world however. Glad to see McCoy approves of the balancing act the administration has done. I respect his opinion.

    1. Thanks Kevin that is an interesting essay.

      The TPP gets quite a bit of coverage here but being a complex economic issue it tends to be second-tier news – because it’s hard work for a layman to think about all its implications. I’ve still got a lot of homework to do about it.
      There are lot of sacred cows on the chopping block: Japan’s protected farming sector is an obvious one to me.
      Australia and the United States pull in opposite directions over intellectual property.

      The whole thing is a sub heading under ‘Globalisation’.
      Sanders hates the TPP as he embodies the US Left’s concerns about globalisation. He also complains about a lack of transparency – which is all fine and well but how do you make something this complicated ‘transparent’ to a public that struggles with the idea that not bombing the shit out of Iran might be a positive? People with a basically nationalist view of the world – which means more than half the US population – are not going to go for this in most ways it can be presented. It’s too ripe for New World Orderly conspiracy fears.

      The Left doesn’t like it because it enables more offshoring and corporatism. The Right doesn’t like it because darn foreigners get to have say.

  3. This is what a quarter or more of my countrymen want to replace our current president with. Even I knew it was Iran's money despite the finest efforts of the Right in this country to gloss over that fact.

    It's fortunate that we always do the right thing after exhausting all of the alternatives.

  4. Replies
    1. Those examples of him exhibiting paranoia are frightening. His thing about maintaining unpredictability is right in the fold with loopy dictators from Hitler to North Korea. The only time I want unpredictability is in a sports game.