January 25, 2012

SOTU: Inside Washington’s Propaganda Machine

This Foreign Policy “grading session” of President Barack Obama is typical of the shallow, mainstream analysis leading up to and following his State of the Union address. Most laud the use of drones and offer generous praise of his administration’s response to the Arab revolutions. Nine graders are also excessive given that eight take on one Glenn Greenwald - but still atoms in the propaganda campaign that has spun Obama’s foreign policy into pyrite.

Robert Kagan is senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The Obama administration has fortunately ignored the "realists'" call for standing by the collapsing dictatorships in the Middle East. (How people can call themselves "realists" when advocating such hopelessly unrealistic policies is a source of wonderment.)
Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She served as director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department from 2009-2011.
Call it the private equity approach to American foreign policy: nimble, flexible, adaptable, and responsive are all essential characteristics for success in the continually accelerating, complex system we call international affairs.
Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
The answer, of course, is politics. Politics matters to any sane politician; but when politics suffers no competition from principle, the nation's foreign policy is rudderless. It is why our allies mistrust us, our adversaries underestimate us, and why we no longer seek to shape a better world, but instead to retreat from it.
Aaron David Miller is public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
On balance, Obama has been credible and able in foreign policy, but neither the brilliant foreign transformer nor transactional negotiator and crisis manager he wanted to be. He shouldn't take it personally; it's a cruel world out there.
Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
President Obama has amassed a decidedly mixed record on foreign policy. He can boast of several worthwhile achievements during his first 3 years. He fulfilled the commitment to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, repaired much of the damage that the Bush administration had caused to America's relationship with the European democracies, and put the United States -- at least rhetorically -- on the right side of history regarding the Arab Awakening. His campaign to eliminate al Qaeda's leadership achieved numerous successes, most notably the killing of Osama Bin Laden.”
Jamie M. Fly is executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.
In his first three years in office, Obama has made several correct tactical decisions, but he seems to lack an appreciation of America's unique role in the world and a coherent vision for the use of U.S. power and influence. What the country needs from its next president is a leader who can shape world events rather than be shaped by them. There is little to indicate that this is Barack Obama's interest or aptitude.
Heather Hurlburt is executive director of the National Security Network.
Achievement 10). Keeping the United States relevant to the Arab Spring. By choosing to ease out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, play a key enabling role in the Libya intervention, and work hard if not so successfully behind the scenes in Bahrain and Yemen, Washington kept itself relevant to the conversation in a changing Arab world -- no small achievement, despite how far short it falls of hopes both there and here.
Glenn Greenwald is a contributing writer at Salon.com.
In sum, Obama has deftly and intelligently pursued ignominious and ignoble foreign-policy goals.
Bonus propaganda: 36 government responses to Obama’s State of the Union and only one mention of foreign policy - to praise his leadership in Iraq, Afghanistan and OBL’s raid.

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