Obama's 5 Foreign-Policy Victories

Obama's 5 Foreign-Policy Victories
Op-Ed The Washington Post
In the month of June, the Obama administration achieved a number of foreign policy successes regarding Afghanistan, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
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All administrations have ups and downs in foreign policy. It's like hitting a baseball: When you fail 70 percent of the time, you make the all-star team. So when the Obama administration has a month like this past one, it deserves recognition.
President Obama's biggest move, of course, was naming Gen. David Petraeus commander in Afghanistan. The decision signaled Obama's determination to succeed in Afghanistan, despite the growing chorus of wise men counseling, as our wise men always seem to do, a rapid retreat. Those in the region who have been calculating on an American departure in July 2011, regardless of conditions on the ground, should think again. That date was never realistic, and the odds that Petraeus will counsel a premature withdrawal -- or be ordered to withdraw regardless of his assessment of the situation -- is infinitesimal.
The second success was the U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran. Yes, it was too mild, badly watered down by China and Russia. Yes, the administration oversold how much Russia acceded to American desires. But the administration did get a resolution, only a little later than planned, and passage kicked off additional sanctions by Europeans and others. Will this by itself stop Iran from getting a bomb? No. But it does increase the pressure on the Tehran regime, which may indirectly help those Iranians who dare to struggle for a new kind of government.
Nor did Turkey and Brazil's votes against the resolution, following their pro-Iranian diplomacy, do more than discredit their leaders in decent world opinion -- imagine voting no even as China and Russia vote yes. The idea that their actions heralded their emergence as world powers is off the mark. If anything, they diminished and slowed what had been their rise to global respectability. Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva looked silly and out of his depth. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan solidified Turkey's image as the lone NATO member that chooses Iran and Syria over its allies. Good work.
But the administration handled that well, too. A Jimmy Carter might have felt compelled to applaud Turkey and Brazil. An administration determined to avoid confrontation with Iran might even have swung behind their diplomatic efforts. Led by Hillary Clinton, this administration gave them the back of its hand and made clear that they were not ready to play in the big leagues. Going a step further, it has declared that Turkey's behavior is damaging its relationship with the United States and its NATO allies. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon warned last week that Turkish actions have placed its "orientation" in doubt and were making it "harder for the United States to support some of the things that Turkey would like to see us support." That was exactly the right message.
The administration's policy toward Japan hasn't been pretty, but it has worked. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's resignation this month had to do with his mishandling of the dispute over the American base in Okinawa and his broader attempt to reorient Japanese foreign policy toward a middle course between the United States and China. The Obama administration was firm but engaged, and the result has been Japanese reaffirmation of its commitment to the U.S. alliance. This has more to do with Japan's fear of China than anything else, but the administration deserves credit for helping steer it in the right direction.
Separately, President Obama signaled a new determination to achieve a free-trade agreement with South Korea. After many hollow claims by administration officials that the United States "is back" in Asia, this would be the first actual evidence. If Congress can be persuaded to pass the agreement -- and Obama's own party has been the chief obstacle -- it will help correct this administration's excessive and largely unsuccessful efforts to make China the cornerstone of U.S. policy in Asia.
Finally, on an issue where the administration has been weakest, there was a sign of a shift. Amid the happy talk and hamburgers last week, the administration made clear that there is one area of continuing disagreement between the United States and Russia: Georgia. In its public "Reset Fact Sheet," the White House declared that the "Obama Administration continues to have serious disagreements with the Russian government over Georgia. We continue to call for Russia to end its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." The word "occupation" is a clear sign that the administration has not swept this issue under the rug. Maybe Obama understands that the "reset" will never be a success so long as Russian troops continue to occupy their neighbors' territories.
Is there much to criticize in the administration's overall handling of foreign and defense policy? Of course, and there will be in the future. But it was a good month. For now the administration deserves congratulations for getting a number of things right.
End of document
Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2010/06/29/obama-s-5-foreign-policy-victories/rdo

In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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