The Real Rebalancing: American Diplomacy and the Tragedy of President Obama's Foreign Policy - Foreign and National Security Remains Militarized, Kerry, Syria, Iran Nuclear Weapon, ISIS, Islamic State
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this study examines the effort by the Obama administration to rebalance the three-legged stool of U.S. national security. American security policy rests on a three-legged stool consisting of defense, diplomacy, and development. More
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this study examines the effort by the Obama administration to rebalance the three-legged stool of U.S. national security. American security policy rests on a three-legged stool consisting of defense, diplomacy, and development. As President Barack Obama implied in his May 2014 speech at West Point, New York, the United States is in the midst of a resurgence of diplomacy and development, as it seeks to leverage diplomatic influence, foreign aid, and multilateral institutions to solve the most vexing international security challenges. However, the dramatic rebalance toward diplomacy and development over the last several years has largely failed. Rhetoric, official strategies, and actual policies have all aimed at rebalancing the three legs of the foreign policy stool. However, several factors point to a continued militarization of U.S. foreign policy, including funding levels, legal authorities, and the growing body of evidence that civilian agencies of the U.S. Government lack the resources, skills, and capabilities to achieve foreign policy objectives. Continued reliance by senior decisionmakers at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on the U.S. military in the development, planning, and implementation of U.S. foreign policy has significant implications. Foremost among them is the fact that the military itself must prepare for a future not terribly unlike the very recent past.
The policy of pivoting — or rather, the rebalancing—to the Asia-Pacific has been described regularly as President Obama's "signature foreign policy initiative," over the last 6 years. Launched in 2009 during his first year in office and then refined through policy pronouncements such as the January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, the rebalance initiative has received much attention from academics, practitioners, think tanks, and the media. In reality though, the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific has been more evolutionary than revolutionary, a shift in focus and grand strategy that began well before President Obama's first inauguration in January 2009.
If there has been a revolutionary rebalancing underway during the Obama presidency, it has been his effort to rebalance American foreign policy generally from over-reliance on the military and toward greater reliance on diplomacy and development. In rhetoric, official strategies, and policy implementation, the Obama administration has strongly and repeatedly favored diplomatic solutions over military ones during the last 6 years.
One of the primary hurdles in relying on diplomatic solutions is that they typically take longer to bear fruit. In contrast, wielding military force often yields results more quickly, even if the apparent success is illusory in the long run. Critics of the Obama approach conflate the emphasis on diplomacy with indecision, and hence weakness. According to Danielle Pletka of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, "This president's strategy has been retreat. Iraq: Retreat. Afghanistan: Retreat. Total disengagement from the world."
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