Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Does Obama Really Play the Foreign-Policy Long Game?...

Does Obama Really Play the Foreign-Policy Long Game?


Nikolas K. Gvosdev, John A. Cloud

Global Governance, Americas

Image: President Barack Obama listens during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 6, 2010.​ Flickr/The White House

Derek Chollet reflects on the last eight years.

It is unfortunate for Derek Chollet that the infamous David Samuels interview with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes has rapidly emerged as the definitive summary of the foreign-policy approach of the Obama administration, with, as Peter Apps of Reuters noted, its focus on the insularity and inexperience of the president’s inner circle, as well as its supposed reliance on spin substituting for policy achievement. It is to be hoped that with the release of his magisterial recapitulation of Barack Obama’s approach to U.S. national security and America’s place in the global order—The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World—Chollet, who helped to formulate and execute the foreign-affairs policies of the United States, will be able to shift the conversation back towards the actual record of events.

As outside observers of the administration’s efforts from our perch in the National Security Affairs department of the Naval War College, we note that Nikolas Gvosdev’s assessment of the Obama approach as one of “strategic patience” is confirmed by an insider—one who served as principal deputy director of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department, as the senior director on the National Security Council for strategic planning, and as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Chollet terms the Obama approach as the “long game”—an effort to renew and sustain American power in the world for the foreseeable future, rather than have it be frittered away chasing ephemeral and, in many cases, unrealizable short-term objectives.

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