The USA needs to show it values its friends more and competitors less.
Obama seems to be trying out a new style of foreign policy and is coming in for a lot of flack because of it. Commentators are accusing Obama of coddling rivals or competitors and alienating allies. He slapped down Israel for an untimely announcement, is in conflict with Japan over basing and is seen as being cool towards Europe. On the other hand Clinton ignored a similar embarrassment from Putin, Obama has been trying to encourage a dialogue with Iran and raise China to being part of a partnership. At the moment it does not seem to be working, but does that mean Obama’s foreign policy will be a failure?
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The US isn't understanding its allies in the far east
The US under the Obama administration has been embroiled in a massive dispute with the Japanese government over the relocation of US bases in the country for the past year. During this time it has shown a clear lack of understanding and willingness to compromise over the base issue not allowing it to be located away from Okinawa but instead forcing the issue. In doing so the Obama administration paid scant regard to the domestic politics in the country such as the level of anger about US behaviour in Okinawa .
The U.S is not adding American bases in the region but only relocating them to a place in Japan which is less antagonistic towards u.s policy. Certainly this is not ignoring the problems in Okinawa but addressing them.
While undermining the US's closest ally in the Middle East and not criticising the people that matter
The US has undermined its closest ally in the Middle East Israel by openly and repeatedly criticising it in public over plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem which is regarded by Israeli's as part of their capital. This is making it much more vulnerable to the Palestinians. Such disputes should be dealt with privately and not out in the open particuarly given the increasing threat of a potentially nuclear Iran which should be the main issue that the US is focusing on.
Saudi Arabia,Qatar and the U.A.E are very close American allies.
they house American universities, buy America technology, employ millions of Americans, have American oil companies drilling their oil; to claim that Israel that never listens to the U.S whenever an American president tries to strike a peace deal in the region; blows up red cross hospitals, violates human rights and is the main reason the u.s is alienated by most of the world is America's closest ally is tremendous indeed.
Not developed personal relationships with the US allies particuarly in Europe
One thing noted by both Diehl and Feaver is that Obama hasn't really built up personal relationships with world leaders particularly but not only in Europe.[[ http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/08/is_it_time_for_obama_to_start_making_friends_with_other_world_leaders%5D%5D Had he done so we could have had less fall out over certain cases like the Megrahi dispute. Instead the administration has made a point of getting on such as for example condemning the supposed pacification of Europe. This is instead of building up strong relationships with partners which could be useful for example if situations like Iran put strain on leaders.[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/23/pacification-europe-security-threat-us-nato]]
keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
One doesn't need to win friends over but to draw in the other side.
True democracy(The U.S's most propagated export)is making everyone happy not just people who like you already.
By focusing on the enemies more Obama has made a large amount of progress. For example recentley "Pushing the Reset button" with Russia has allowed for the creation of the latest arms treaty. When it's enacted "New start" will pave the way for a significant reduction and allows both sides to verify that each has reduced their strategic stockpiles. [[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/26/nuclear-weapons-cut-us-russia%5D%5D
But how much of an achievement is this?
Probably not much of one because it is not particularly ambitious for either the USA or Russia. As mentioned in another debate Russia was and is in a bad position compared to the USA in terms of its nuclear weapons. According to the Moscow Times
[[Alexander Golts, An illusory new START, The Moscow Times, 30/3/10, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/an-illusory-new-start/402786.html%5D%5D
Equally for the US this is not an ambitious or major achievement . It does not include tactical nuclear weapons[[David E. Hoffman, The Little Nukes That Got Away, Foreign Policy, 1/4/10, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/01/the_little_nukes_that_got_away%5D%5D and to make it even worse it is not really much of a reduction.
[[Kori Schake, Obama’s nuke deal with Russia: unprecedented but incomplete, Foreign Policy, 31/3/10, http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/31/obama_s_nuke_deal_with_russia_unprecedented_but_incomplete%5D%5D
Obama has made efforts to heal the wounds over Iraq with Europe
Obama has made efforts to heal divisions with allies over Iraq even before he took presidential office. For example in 2008 one of the first places he visited was Europe where he made a speech at the Brandenburg Gate to an estimated 200,000 people trying to build bridges unlike the previous administration which had not appealed directly to the people before or after. [[ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/will-obamas-rockstar-moment-in-berlin-backfire-877802.html?%5D%5D
This does not show that the USA values its friends because it was going to happen anyway. The war in Iraq is drawing down and US troups are leaving. The issue has therefore gone away.
There is also a big difference between appealing to the public in foreign nations and treating their leaders well. Foreign policy mostly relies upon the views of a small elite at the top of government, the diplomatic service and the military, appealing to their people over their heads is not likely to be taken well if they are being ignored at the same time.
Domestic policy concerns with certain exceptions take priority
For this administration domestic concerns have to take priority over foreign policy consideration. The Healthcare problem was a serious issue that affected all Americans and getting the reforms passed on it was a critical problem that justified moving scheduled visits to Indonesia and Australia back. The same situation applies to the economy where tough action back at home was required before dealing with the situation abroad.
This is the case for all administrations. Domestic politics in any democracy, and probably any autocracy as well, is primary becauce it is domestic policy that the voters care about and so determines whether a politician stays in power. George H.W. Bush showed that you can do amazingly well internationally (win the cold war, collapse of communism, painless victory over Iraq by UN mandate) and still not be reelected. The problem is not that Obama is prioritising domestic policy, he is giving as much time to foreign affairs as any other world leader, but rather that he is going about it the wrong way. As an example of domestic politics taking priority over foreign policy Gordon Brown will miss Obama's nuclear summit in order to campaign which might be surprising since a photo op with Obama could be worth votes.[[Extreme domestic bias, ippr, 8/4/10, http://ippr-policycritical.blogspot.com/2010/04/extreme-domestic-bias.html%5D%5D
Domestic policy would seem to indicate that the US should be showing how close it is to countries like the US and the Anglophone counties that have large amounts of US domestic support rather than 'cozying up' to countries that are disliked domesticly such as Syria and Iran.
What do you think?