Now that Obama has won reelection, news of how he plans to run his new administration has been springing forth fast and furiously. Despite alluding to a time of peace in his reelection speech last week, the latest on foreign policy going forward indicates otherwise. Like so many other issues, the new foreign policy agenda would have been nice to know before the election. According to the LA Times, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and missile defense are all currently being “reassessed” by the Obama administration.
Previously, the policy on Iran has been limited to diplomacy and sanctions. The week before the election, Iran fired on an American drone; an event that wasn’t made public until 2 days after the election. President Obama responded the same day the news was released as he has before, with more sanctions against Iran. The sanctions weren’t because of the drone attack, however, the administration claimed they were because Iran was “jamming satellite broadcasts and blocking Internet access for ordinary Iranians.” Iran responded in their usual fashion in a statement by the Vice President of Iran saying, “We will break [the] grasping hands of Obama and we will be successful in bypassing the sanctions.” This week, the White House is indicating it is open to resuming negotiations with Iran that could result in Iran continuing to enrich “low level” uranium, while the international community “monitors” the situation.
On the issue of Syria, world leaders put off their response until after the US election and resumed efforts hours after Obama was announced the winner. Britain will now be working with rebel military leaders and NATO may provide safe zone protection, all with the expectation of a “bolder approach” by the US in Syria. The administration has publicly been hesitant to become deeply involved in Syria, specifically not wanting to arm the Syrian rebels due to a prior assessment showing arms from outside forces going (instead) to Islamic jihadists. However, some overseas have openly suggested that the US has been quietly assisting the opposition from outside of Syria. Whether or not the US has already been heavily involved in Syria, administration officials admit they may now be playing a larger role in the country’s civil war.
In Afghanistan, the plan remains the same on the withdrawal of the 68,000 troops still present in the country. The debate is now how to draw down troops, the last of which aren’t expected to leave until the end of 2014. While some administration officials would like to begin the withdrawal sooner, military officials would rather it be later. The concerns in Afghanistan come from locals and the US military, both of whom believe insurgents and the Taliban won’t be giving up against the Afghan forces any time soon. Doubts have also been voiced about the abilities of the Afghanistan military and police to defend the country without help from outside forces.
Meanwhile, following President Obama’s promise to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he “would have more flexibility after the election,” it appears that his flexibility will be to bend to the request of Russia; who opposes a new US missile defense system in Eastern Europe to defend against strikes that Iran supposedly isn’t planning. Russian leaders are now calling on President Obama to honor his promise of flexibility and have made it clear that they, on the other hand, are not willing to be flexible on their terms.
With circumstances across the globe heating up, President Obama may want to move the country beyond times of war but it doesn’t appear that he will be able. Unfortunately, if his acceptance speech is any indication, Obama may continue to sugarcoat the reality of the situation leaving Americans unprepared to face what lies ahead for our country.