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Tag Archives: Barack Obama

What is burning on that anniversary cake?

What is burning on that anniversary cake?

Anniversaries are dangerous days.  There is often a flash of attention, lots of words and supposedly deep thought and meaningful promises. Then the sun goes down, and life goes on as before. The world often notes an anniversary without real thought or determination on how to take the steps needed to make it meaningful. As […]

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Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Earlier posts have commented on the Obama administration’s defective foreign policy apparatus as well as its highly dysfunctional management of the war in Afghanistan (here and here).  Both problems are conjoined, a point that is amply underscored in Vali Nasr’s forthcoming book, The Dispensable Nation.  Nasr served as a key adviser to the embattled Richard […]

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North Korea, Iran and Obama’s Big Bluff

North Korea, Iran and Obama’s Big Bluff

North Korea’s nuclear test this week, coming on the heels of last December’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile along with reports (here and here) that Pyongyang is developing a mobile missile launcher, underscores a point I’ve argued in earlier posts (here and here): It is exceedingly difficult for Washington to stop a rogue regime […]

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State of the Union, State of Foreign Policy

State of the Union, State of Foreign Policy

As many of us here at foreignpolicyblogs.com noted during the presidential race, this was an election centered around the economy and not foreign policy. Tuesday night’s State of the Union address continued this dynamic, with foreign policy issues receiving only a passing mention. I expected President Obama to more explicitly build on the “foreign policy […]

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U.S. Embassy Bombing in Ankara: Why? Why now?

U.S. Embassy Bombing in Ankara: Why? Why now?

On February 1, U.S. Embassy in Ankara – in a calm, residential and business neighborhood — was bombed. At the time of writing this, police statements indicate that it is believed to be a suicide attack and the attacker(s) detonated the bomb inside the security checkpoint bunker, killing at least one security guard. Growing up […]

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Remembering a Few Words from MLK on President Obama’s Inauguration Day

Remembering a Few Words from MLK on President Obama’s Inauguration Day

Not as cold, certainty not as crowded as four years ago, and definitely a great day for national celebration. Leading by example, the peaceful transfer—or continuation in this case—of political power on display for the entire world to watch, as U.S. President Barack Obama publicly retook his oath of office in front of the National […]

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McDonough’s Elevation and the Obamians’ Ascent

McDonough’s Elevation and the Obamians’ Ascent

The pending appointment of Denis R. McDonough, currently President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, as White House chief of staff will have major ramifications for how the administration formulates foreign policy.  First, it underscores the argument in my last post about the subtle but significant policy disconnects between cabinet-level nominees Chuck Hagel and John F. […]

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Hagel, Kerry and the Ghost in Their Heads

Hagel, Kerry and the Ghost in Their Heads

President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as his Defense Secretary has sparked a raging debate over whether the views held by the former Senator from Nebraska are sufficiently in the U.S. foreign policy mainstream.  Lost in the tumult, however, is how his appointment (along with John F. Kerry’s as Secretary of State) is in an […]

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Chuck Hagel on China

Chuck Hagel on China

Following the failure of his nomination of Susan Rice to head the Defense Department, President Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel, 66, a former Republican senator and Vietnam veteran as the next Secretary of Defense. Hagel was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds he received serving as an infantry squad leader in Vietnam, then entered the […]

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Solving Problems Internally Provides Positive Outlook for Africa

Solving Problems Internally Provides Positive Outlook for Africa

“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.” This simple sentence came from a speech given by U.S. President Barack Obama in Ghana in 2009. Never has this premise rung more true than right now. As Africa faces imminent threats in several regional situations, the trend seems to be […]

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The Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon

The year 2012 was for Beijing a year to display its dragon-like qualities of authority, dignity, and honor. The dragon is also the symbol of the emperor, so it may have been auspicious for a new leader to be chosen during November’s meeting of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. While […]

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Will the Iraqi Endgame be repeated in Afghanistan?

Will the Iraqi Endgame be repeated in Afghanistan?

Even as President Obama trumpets his plans to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in two years’ time, he also insists (though in a sotto voce way) that he wants to maintain a limited but long-term military presence focused on counter-terrorism missions and training Afghan security forces.  Of course, this is the same promise he […]

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Thoughts on the Light Footprint Strategy

Thoughts on the Light Footprint Strategy

With President Obama’s second term around the corner, it is a perfect moment to look back at the administration’s so-called “light footprint” strategy – a military strategy characterized by the use of targeted tactics like drone strikes and the avoidance of large-scale, on-the-ground intervention.  As journalist David Sanger summarized it in a video interview, it […]

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Syria is a Test of U.S. Credibility on Iran

Syria is a Test of U.S. Credibility on Iran

Shifting red lines in Syria undermines the tough rhetoric toward Tehran Many observers have connected the civil war raging in Syria to the broader U.S. standoff with Iran.  Critics of the Obama administration’s extremely cautious approach on Syria argue that pushing more forcefully for the demise of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Tehran’s main ally in the […]

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Obama is still bluffing on Iran

Obama is still bluffing on Iran

An unexpected shadow was cast over President Obama’s swing through Southeast Asia last week by the fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.  The diversion is interpreted by some as a sign of how the combustibility of the Middle East will undercut Washington’s much-ballyhooed “pivot” toward Asia.  As one commentator artfully puts it, “Having [Secretary […]

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