The writer of this article is Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University and a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation. She served as a counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy from 2009 to 2011 and previously served as a senior advisor at the U.S. State Department.
Below, some excerpts from her article:
In 2008, Obama's
principled positions on the Iraq War, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and
interrogation policy helped motivate the Democratic base and send him to the
White House with a decisive victory. But that was then. Now, Obama's approval
ratings have plummeted, both domestically and internationally. For most of his first
term, they have been well below the historical average for first-term presidents.
Despite some successes large and small, Obama's foreign
policy has disappointed many who initially supported him. The Middle East
initiatives heralded in his 2009 Cairo speech fizzled or never got
started at all, and the Middle East today is more volatile than ever. The administration's
response to the escalating violence in Syria has consisted mostly of anxious
thumb-twiddling. The Israelis and the Palestinians are both furious at us. In
Afghanistan, Obama lost faith in his own strategy: he never fought to fully
resource it, and now we're searching for a way to leave without condemning the
Afghans to endless civil war. In Pakistan, years of throwing money in the
military's direction have bought little cooperation and less love.
The Russians want to reset the reset, neither the Chinese
nor anyone else can figure out what, if anything, the "pivot to Asia" really means, and Latin
America and Africa continue to be mostly ignored, along with global issues such
as climate change. Meanwhile, the administration's expanding drone campaign
suggests a counterterrorism strategy that has completely lost its bearings -- we no longer seem very
clear on who we need to kill or why.
He was a
visionary candidate, but as president, he has presided over an exceptionally
dysfunctional and un-visionary national security architecture -- one that
appears to drift from crisis to crisis, with little ability to look beyond the
next few weeks. His national security staff is squabbling and demoralized, and
though senior White House officials are good at making policy announcements,
mechanisms to actually implement policies are sadly inadequate.
President Obama promised to ensure transparency and competence in government,
but too often, nepotism trumps merit. Young and untried campaign aides are
handed vital substantive portfolios (I could name names, but will charitably
refrain, unless you buy me a drink), while those with deep expertise often find
Cronyism also reigns supreme
when it comes to determining who should attend White House meetings:
increasingly, insiders say, meetings called by top NSS officials involve
by-name requests for attendance, with no substitutions or "plus ones"
permitted. As a result, dissenting voices are shut out, along with the voices
of specialists who could provide valuable information and insights. The result?
Shallow discussions and poor decisions. Full Article