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Former Clinton administration assistant Secretary of State James Rubin took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to extoll the virtues of President Obama’s foreign policy “success.” Mr. Rubin argues that unlike the regression that befell American influence and credibility across the global community under the Bush administration, President Obama has lifted the United States out of isolation and relegated the usual cast of international antagonists, e.g. Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Chavez, to further global detachment and heightened censure. This is quite an interesting take on President Obama’s first 17 months in office.
Contrary to Mr. Rubin’s declarations the United States has recently suffered from an apparent lack of confidence among the sentiments of its most traditional and stalwart allies. A recent poll among Britons showed that only 17% felt that relations between the United States and Britain had improved under President Obama compared to 25% that felt relations had declined.
Further, President Obama’s recent reaction to a deadly incident between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and a Gaza bound flotilla of ships operating under the questionable guise of “humanitarianism” has not strengthened relations with Israel, a reliable Mideast ally in an often unstable region.
As for “weakening the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela,” the recent Brazil-Turkey-Iran agreement to facilitate the enrichment of uranium, ostensibly designed to undermine the imposition of further U.N. sanctions, does not buoy Mr. Rubin’s assessment of Obama foreign policy. Instead, it appears to demonstrate a willingness among regional leaders to openly align with those to whom Washington may have fundamental strategic and national security concerns, i.e. Brazil’s da Silva with Venezuela’s Chavez or Turkey’s Erdogan with Iran’s Ahmadinejad.
While partisan deference is not uncommon among one’s political proponents the available evidence strikes Mr. Rubin’s assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy “success” as more quixotic than rational. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s regime is no further from abandoning its pursuit of nuclear capabilities than before and strained relations with traditional U.S. allies only engenders more difficulty in the continual struggle for the maintenance of peace and stability in an increasingly volatile world.