The March/April 2013 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine has excerpts from Vali Nasr’s book, “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat.” Nasr previously worked in the State Department but is now the dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. Nasr was an admirer of Obama so this is not a conservative view but the view of a liberal Democratic insider. The article’s cover page sets the tone with this quote, “My time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience.”
Nasr worked under Richard Holbrooke, an experienced diplomat, on Afghanistan. Holbrooke was supposed to be one of the major players in creating a solution for the Afghan crisis; however, Nasr pointed out that, “After he took office, the president never met with Holbrooke outside large meetings and never gave him time and heard him out…At times it appeared the White House was more interested in bringing Holbrooke down than getting the policy right.”
“The truth is his (Obama’s) administration made it extremely difficult for its own foreign policy experts to be heard.” Why? A few paragraphs later Nasr gave the reason. “…the president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics. Their primary concern was how action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been shaped to accommodate partisan political concerns.” Notice that he pointed to PARTISAN POLITICAL CONCERNS.
Nasr then wrote, “The president has marketed the U.S. exit from Afghanistan as a foreign-policy coup, one that will not only unburden America from the region’s problems but also give the country the freedom it needs to pursue other, more pressing national security concerns. This is an illusion. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the broader, ill-defined ‘war on terror,’ is a very good idea, provided it is done properly and without damage to U.S. interests or the region’s stability.”
Nadr’s words turn out to be a prophecy. Obama’s partisan politics decisions have destabilized the region and created chaos. Iraq is being torn apart in a civil war with terrorists. Syria is in the same situation. Israel is being bombed by Hamas rockets prompting Israel to defend itself with an invasion of Gaza. Iran is still on track to produce a nuclear bomb contrary to what the Obama White House states. The Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan. Even African nations have seen an increase in terrorism. Yet Obama has the audacity to believe in his pronouncement a few years ago that, “The war on terrorism is over.”
What Nasr wrote a year ago is correct. “…Barack Obama got it wrong.”