GLOBALIZATION AND OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY 1
Globalization and Obama’s Foreign Policy
An effective foreign policy is an imperative tool for any country asit ensures triumphant collaboration with other countries as well ascritical identification of the problems facing a country. In thisregards, the assessment of America’s foreign policy under Obamawill help to construe the implications of the policy on othercountries as well as explain whether the policy has failed orsucceeded. In fact, the assessment will provide a short timeline ofthe America’s foreign policy to help identify the changes that havetaken place in the 20th century. In addition, thistimeline will help identify the stand that America has taken inregards to international relations and problems. It is imperative tonote that America remains the undisputed superpower thus, anyforeign policy she undertakes affects numerous countries. As such,the assessment will proffer an illustration on the weakened foreignpolicy but also note that the policy has improved a little ascompared to the policy during Bush administration. However, theassessment notes that the rise of China, Russia annexation of Crimea,and the rise of ISIS have largely contributed to the weakened successof America’s foreign policy. The study will also explain theposition of the mainstream and government regarding the policy aswell as construe an explanation on whether future governments willtranscend the Obama’s policy. Finally, the paper will provide thechanges that Obama has pursued and conclude on what the governmentshould pursue.
The study investigates the American foreign policy under Obama, itsfailures and success mainstream position regarding the policy, andthe changes pursued by Obama, by providing a parallel standard toforeign policies under other administration.
Globalization and Obama’s Foreign Policy
The America’s foreign policy under Obama has taken neoliberal andliberal or Wilsonia and partially Jeffersonian conventions byemphasizing on international establishments and multilateralism aswell as democratic establishments. Obama’s administration haschosen coalition building and cooperation as the key approaches toforeign policies especially in Iran and North Korea (Steele, 2008).In this regards, his supporters have commended what they label ascollaboration with multilateralism and partners, administration’sattempts to destroy al-Qaeda’s central leadership especially theslaying of Osama and the ending of the Iraq War. However, hisopponents have asserted that the administration is ineffectual anddiffident in wielding America’s influence (Quinn, 2014). Inaddition, they have argued that the administration’s policy ofappeasement and coalition building has led to a retreat of US fromthe world scene (Lynch, 2015). Other opponents have accused Obama ofbeing cynical and heavy-handedness and that he pursuescorrespondingly imperialistic doctrines as those pursued by GeorgeBush (McCormick, 2014).
In understanding the Obama’s foreign policy, it is essential tounderstand the geopolitical developments that have occurred duringhis administration. Some of the developments include the FinancialCrisis of 2008, Eurozone Crisis, Arab Spring protests, new fronts inthe war on terror, dialogue with Iraq, WikiLeaks’ unauthorizedpublications, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and breakdown of orderin Middle (East Lynch, 2015). The US has intervened in some of thesedevelopments, but the intervention has been largely populist andinclined to appeasement, which has left many Americans unsatisfied.However, the pursued foreign policy has changed and has beenexceptional especially during the first term of Obama. Although someof the policies, for example, the sanctions on Russia forcommandeering Crimea and the handling of Benghazi attacks, some likethe interventions in Iraq have paid off (Quinn, 2014). In thisregards, the study investigates the American foreign policy underObama, its failures and success mainstream position regarding thepolicy, and the changes pursued by providing a parallel standard toforeign policies under other administration.
2.1 An overview of US foreign policy during the 20thcentury
Through the 20th century, America has struggled to definethe fundamental purpose of her foreign policy. The decision tointervene abroad has always shaped the legacy of most presidents infact, the US foreign policy of the 20th century has becomea progressive revolution (Lynch, 2015). As the undisputed nation,America has been confronted with the urgent and painful duty ofreassessing the functional adequacy of some the most hallowed andhitherto unchallenged establishments. It is worth noting thatAmerica’s system has served exceptionally well in the internal andexternal policies. Since 1918, America’s foreign policy has becomeincreasingly interwoven and despite increased developments thatattempt to discredit the country’s foreign policy, the country hasdelivered. America has acted decisively to avert dynamic forces ofthe 20th century such as fascism, communism, the explosiveawakening of long quiescent people, and the aggressive nationalism(Quinn, 2014). The U.S. commitment to its foreign policies can simplybe mirrored through its foreign policy budgets. It is estimated thatthe U.S. will most probably spend over $4 trillion dollars in beforethe war on Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is over. All the USinvolvement today in war since Bush era makes 6.2% of U.S. GDP,making it the most expensive and largest expenditure in militaryintervention in American History. This however has not surpassed theWorld War II defense spending that reached 37.8% of the U.S. GDP. By2007, the U.S had spent over $368 billion in Iraq on militaryoperations and $45 billion more on similar services. In Afghanistan,over $200 billion had been since 2001 to 2007 with 2,250 Americanlives lost. It is projected that the cost of Iraq war may exceed $1trillion and interests reaching $750 billion by 2017. CombinedAfghanistan and Iraq War expenditure is estimated to reach 2.4trillion within a span of 16 years, which is much higher than theCold war expenditure that totaled 6.3 trillion in a period of fourdecades. The U.S. spent $350 billion in 8 years in the Vietnam Warand most recently, military spending in Egypt are estimated to be $45billion since opening on Camp David Accords. All the foreign policiesthat have resulted to military engagement have had seriousrepercussions on the U.S. economy in the 20th century(Rohn, 2014 Walker, 2014).
2.1.1 Continuity and discontinuity of the conventional foreign policyduring the Obama administration
Obama’s American foreign policies have continued to prove to becatastrophic departing from the promises he had when he came intooffice with the internationalization idealism. Obama’s approach wasto rebuild America’s alliances, forge partnerships and developinstitutions needed to eliminate the common threats to achieve acommon goal in global security (Rose, 2015 Stokes & Maher,2014). This approach that neglects the use of force an effective wayof resolving conflict and instead adopts diplomacy and partnerships ,promising enemies to seek new ways to address issues mutually hasfailed and is now yielding worldwide instabilities that could haveput to a stop by use of force persistently as it has been done before(Quinn, 2014 Stokes, D. & Maher, 2014). One reason the U.S.should abandon its current foreign policy approach is by learningfrom Russia. Russia may be using the old fashion way but it isworking as Obama’s aversion to force and instead focusing onmultilateralism and diplomacy has created the new wave of the fastspreading anti-American alliance (Rose, 2015).
The situation in Yemen, Libya now Syria all resulted as a failure ofObama administration that preferred diplomatic approaches than amilitary intervention that directly needed it (Stern, 2015).Underestimating the ISIL capability in Iraq and Syria has been thebiggest fall of Obama Administration foreign policy strategy (Lynch,2015, p.2). A more aggressive stance against terrorist groups throughmilitary intervention is the only sure way to contain this globalcalamity, a factor not entirely considered in Obama’s foreignpolicy (Quinn, 2014). The U.S. most recent vote on allowing Syriarefugees to America Soils as much as it has drawn global attention,the fact remains that the chances of exposure to the extremist groupswill worsen (Lynch, 2015). Despite breaking the U.S. vow to engage inactive war in Syria, the Obama administration still faced a majorblow when it placed special forced as advisors in Syria, breaking hisfirst election promise to pull out US troops from war-torn MiddleEast countries (Rose, 2015).
2.1.2 Can future administrations transcend the progressive foreignpolicy?
Future administrations of the U.S. government have a many issues toenhance especially from the already letdowns that have happened inthe past decade during Obama administration with the Obama foreignpolicy strategy (Stern, 2015). ISIS rose at the watch of PresidentObama mainly due to failure to acknowledge the danger it posed or asa fact of being misinformed on the truth that was happening in Iraq,Yemen and Syria. The first opportunity for the future administrationin the U.S. is to develop military countermeasures to limit thegrowth of ISIS by preventing the group from expanding in importantterritories in Syria and Iraq (Quinn, 2014). This can be achieved bycontrolling the amount of resourced these groups access and control.A strategy to counter the establishment of a jihadist caliphate inthe Middle East will also be a priority regardless of the means thatwill be used whether the diplomatic or military intervention(McCormick, 2014).
Conceding defeat in Iraq by failing to eliminate totally al-Qaedagroups was catastrophic after the amount of budgets that had gone tothat war since Bush administration. The promise to leave behind astable, sovereign nation that could sustain herself should be thegoverning principle for any administration. Future U.Sadministrations must consider finding ways to make Iraq stable andsupport the Iraq government until it is truly stable. Secondly,stopping Iran influence in Iraq will be important (Stern, 2015).After the Iran nuclear deal went through, some Middle East countriesespecially Saudi Arabia have continued to express their concerns.Since the deal is undoable, the future U.S. administrations have aresponsibility to ensure that the treaty is followedby the letter andconcern countries are kept in agreement to prevent a nuclear armsrace in the region (McCormick, 2014).
Military presence is needed, and it is important to remove the “redline” in Syria. This will help to end the invasions and theconflicts between the rebels and government. Priority should,therefore, find ways to end the war and eliminate terrorist groupsbuilding up in Syria. This will stop the outflow of refugees and helpto stabilize Syrian borders in the end (Lynch, 2015). Specificpolicies to confront aggression by force should be included in theforeign policies of future U.S administration to stop countries likeRussia, Iran, and North Korea from oppressing their neighbors (Rose,2015). The Obama foreign policy weaknesses can be overcome in manyways so long as pulling back and refusing to take responsibility byengaging with the military is repeated. This will, at least, restoretrust and reliability by its allies especially the Saudis andEmirates whose stability and peace havebeen basedon the U.S. foreignpolicy on stabilizing the regions in the past four decades. Thiscommitment must be restored by all means (Singh, 2014)
2.2 Mainstream and US Government’s Position on Foreign Policy
The U.S foreign policy is based on the globalization of politics.Since September 11, a new era of global politics was market endingthe former geopolitics policies that it perused. From the U.S.involvement in forming the European Union since the early 1990s andits fresh relationships with Russia, the U.S foreign policy has beenthat of progressing international relationship through its politicaldrive (McCormick, 2014). American policy now focuses on its rivaledpower globally and the growth of global politics. The U.S. sets itsforeign policy objectives and ensures that it can achieve themwithout relying on other countries (Rose, 2015). The Obamaadministration is confident on the new globalization of politics. TheWhite House unveiled a continental diplomatic strategy to keep risingeconomies like China in check while maintaining its strong influenceacross the globe both in politics, economic development andenvironmental issues (Rose, 2015).
The white house has progressively in the last seven years rebuilt theAmerican global influence. This has successfully transformed Americaolds coercion of war, occupation strategies unilateral militaryinvasions to more cooperative approaches in trade, diplomacy andmutual security globally. Obama administration has successfullynegotiated deals with the century with Burma, Iran and Cuba (Reid,2015). In the mainstream, the Obama foreign policy continues toreceive mixed reactions with numerous setbacks being dwelled on as away to highlight the approach’s failures. The failure to deliverthe promise in Iraq as a secure and free country after the withdrawalof U.S. troops and the emergence of ISIL on the Obama administrationwatch are among major setbacks that are taking a toll on the foreignpolicy credibility in the mainstream meridian (Stokes & Maher,2014). The fall of Syria and unrests that have now reachedhumanitarian crisis levels in Yemen and the current aggression inLibya also contribute to the media outcry to the public. However, themainstream obviously has failed also to highlight the most importantbenefits that the policy has done to the Americans and othercountries globally (Rose, 2015, p.2).
2.3 The Change that the Obama Administration has pursued
Obama administration foreign policy has reduced the burdens theyinherited from Bush administration. In the course of undertakingthese corrections, the Obama administration has managed to preservethe core of the liberal order despite the necessary sacrifices thatwere made on the mainstream. The administration reduced involvementin Ukraine and the Middle East gave it chance to increase itsalliances in NATO and Asia and refocused its diplomatic efforts inexpanding its liberal order with efforts such as re-establishingrelationships with Cuba, pursuing and reaching an internationalagreement with Iran on nuclear proliferation and the negotiations onthe massive Trans-Pacific Partnerships (McCormick, 2014). Sincetaking office, Obama administration promises to reduce Americamassive military and political investment in the Middle East has beenachieved. The administration minimized its military involvement inSyria and had continued to withdraw its military troops from Iraq.The administration has also improved the US-China relationshipputting it in the right direction. Obama’s administration alsoreviewed its position on the European security (Christensen, 2015).
Departing from the former Middle East foreign policy standpoints thatwere based on “Israel first” and strong relationships withoil-producing regimes. According to Rose (2015), Obama administrationhas adopted a centrist realist approach in the Middle East region.Obama has approached the Middle East conflict with caution avoidingunnecessary risks and pushing its allies in conflict areas to step uptheir contribution to the U.S international programs. This isevidenced by the Syrian crisis where Obama administration has beenreluctant to stop the bloodshed for over five years. The US has forthe last seven years overseen and involved its resources incountering terrorism. The security forces have been taking outtargeted killings, providing security assistance and intelligence inpartnership with forces from allied countries and surveillanceintelligence (Quinn, 2014 McCormick, 2014).
3.0 Obama’s Failures and Successes in the Foreign Policy
According to McCormick, J. M. (2014), the Iran deal remains theremarkable Obama administration foreign policy win of all times.Despite the fact that the Iran deal was a continuation from formerregimes in the U.S. Obama administration however is a step ahead inthe American effort to prevent nuclear proliferation after Bushfailed the North Korean nuclear negotiations. The use of diplomacy bythe U.S. government in engaging in conflicts that stated after 1970swith Henry Kissinger on the Soviet Union policy. As much as thenegotiations were influenced by political pressure to prevent andreduce U.S. military spending, Reagan administration also usedcoercive diplomacy to prevent Iran nuclear cooperation in 1983(Quinn, 2014 McCormick, 2014).
President Bush administration take on the Arab world was to instilldemocratization which in its approach required Arab allies to Americato be pushed hard enough to change. With Obama’s administration,what Bush had begun ended after his much praised speech in Cairopromising that Arab democratization will not be a path he wouldpursue. Obama failed to take any action in the 2011 Arab Spring inEgypt, Libya and Syria. In Libya, Iraq and Syria, Obama failure toact or lead any form of action created a gap for the extremists toaccumulate power and the results are evident (Rose, 2015, p.2).
The US foreign policy on Russia for the past three decades hascontinued to weaken and deform. After the U.S abandoned theAnti-Ballistic Missile treaty to pursue a unilateral course in itsforeign policy after the 9/11 attacks, Bush relationship with Russiadeteriorated even opposing the U.S invasion of Iraq. As part of theG7, the U.S. through the Obama’s administration has continued toput in place check on Russia and its activities in Ukraine ready toadvance sanctions incase Russia fails to comply with the Minskagreement. Obama administration failed to realize Russia strategicposture that was taking a different direction. No former U.S.president has ever been so soft on Russia like the Obamaadministration. Obama perceived coercive diplomacy has failed to workon Russia despite continued to expand its aggression on Ukraine andnow affecting neighboring non NATO members. In form The NATO easternflank in the Steadfast Jazz, U.S. alongside the UK failed theexercise. Despite continued aggressiveness on Ukraine, the Obamaadministration sill did not do anything to intervene. Russiainfluence has continued to increase with the U.S. not taking anymeasure even as a member of the NATO (Applebaum, 2015, p.5).
Obama foreign policy in China and Pacific Asia as part of itsgeopolitical strategy has been of high diplomatic gains just as manyformer presidents of the U.S have been struggling to achieve.Accosting to Christensen (2015) the U.S. foreign policy approach hasmainly intended to build an empire abroad while maintaining democracywithin its borders. Bush and Bill Clinton were also very aggressivein trying to with economic ties with Pacific Asian countries(Christensen, 2015 Rose, 2015).
3.1 Middle East
According to McCormick (2014), the Iran deal remains the remarkableObama administration foreign policy win of all times. This ensuredrestoration of power balance without provoking a nuclear weapons rushby rival states to Iran. Obama’s effort to train various militiagroups in ground combat despite taking a stall is beginning to bearfruits. The recent congress approval for America to take part in Aircombat in Syria alongside the coalition countries is also critical inthe administration`s contribution to solving the Syrian conflict anddefeating ISIS. The U.S military air support in Libya to take downMuammar al-Qaddafi regime was an advance success for the Obamaadministration (Quinn, 2014).
Failure to eliminate fully al-Qaeda in Iraq leaving the country intethers is the biggest blow in Obama administration. According toLynch (2015), the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and now ISIS havenin Libya is due to the Obama administration weak foreign policies.The Obama administration saw Syria go down on its watch withouttaking action. The massive refugee flow now being experienced acrossthe Middle East in Europe can also be blamed on the U.S. Libya’sfall and now growing into an ISIS stronghold is one fall back of theObama administration failing to support transitioning into stabilityafter removing the former regime. Secretary Kerry’s continuouseffort to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict remains Obama’s’administration long term failures. Bad relationship with Egypt hasescalated in other Arab world degrading all America’s effort instrengthening its position in the Arab world. The U.S willingness tosupport Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen was only to secure supportin the Iran nuclear deal. The Obama administration has no strategywhatsoever to take part in Yemen war (McCormick, 2014).
Disruption of Middle East governments, which include Egypt, Iraq,Yemen and lately Syria, has provided loopholes for regional powers toinflict their political influences. Iran mobilizing Shiite militantsand Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia together with Turkeysupporting the Sunni has opened way for the formation and growth ofextremism like ISIS, a big fail for the super power that had all thetime and capacity to mobile its allies and prevent all thesehappenings (Lynch, 2015).
As part of the G7, the U.S. through the Obama administration havecontinued to put in place check on Russia and its activities inUkraine ready to advance sanctions incase Russia fails to comply withthe Minsk agreement. Obama administration failed to realize Russiastrategic posture that was taking a different direction. No formerU.S. president has ever been so soft on Russia like the Obamaadministration. It is from this soft policy on Russia that Russia hascontinued to expand its aggression on Ukraine and now affectingneighboring non-NATO members. In form The NATO eastern flank in theSteadfast Jazz, U.S. alongside the UK failed the exercise. Despitecontinued aggressiveness on Ukraine, the Obama administration silldid not do anything to intervene. Russia influence has continued toincrease with the U.S. not taking any measure even as a member of theNATO (Applebaum, 2015).
3.3 Asia and China
Obama foreign policy in China and Pacific Asia as part of itsgeopolitical strategy has been of high diplomatic gains. Accosting toChristensen (2015) the U.S. foreign policy approach has mainlyintended to build an empire abroad while maintaining democracy withinits borders. Obama has in his sixth year pursued the Trans-PacificPartnership treaty that technically excluded China to combine a $28trillion DGP representing 30% of the global trade (Christensen, 2015Rose, 2015).
The Obama administration has successfully used diplomacy to serveAmerican interests in the Asian region as well as strengthening itsrelationship with China. The new model of great power relations thatdepends on the American will allow China strategic space to pursueits security concepts. Obama’s Sea-Air combat strategy to createcapacity in Japan, Philippines and Australia in countering China’smighty is another success the administration has achieved. Theadministration’s effort to contain the tensions between China andJapan has bored fruits despite failing to solve the real issue(Christensen, 2015).
Failure to pass the crucial Transatlantic Bill in June continues toexpose the U.S. role in the Pacific realm and risk China taking overto fill in the vacuum. The Obama administration also failed to thwartthe China state-run infrastructure investment fund that directlycompetes with the World Bank. The administration has failed torespond to Beijing efforts to strengthen and expand its territorialclaims of islands in the South China Sea, which has increasedsecurity tensions between the two power states (Christensen, 2015).
The U.S. has in the past half century undergone tremendous foreignpolicy changes and restructuring that global economic, political andenvironmental issues have mainly reshaped. Emerging superioreconomies and Unstable Middle East are among the most importantfactors that have made U.S. presidents adjust their approaches instructuring their foreign policy. From Bush administration that wasmore compelledin the capitalistic way of functioning, to the currentconservatism Obama administration, the U.S. involvement in the globalevents has continued to change while facing numerous challengesalongside the transformations. Obama administration has its fairshare of progress and major failures that may not ultimately beblamed on their lack of taking any decision. Nevertheless, as manyanalysts argue, more effective measures and better ways of handlingthe current global crises could have been devised to avert currentsituations but this will mostly have to be the job of the nextpresident and the new administration. Just as the September 11changed the U.S. foreign policy, so does the current administrationfailures and challenges shape the next president’s foreign policy.There is a need to look beyond the importance of the U.S., primacyand globalization. There is a need to create more flexible andstronger foreign relationship than relying on its unilateralapproach. The U.S. must lead by creating effective and reliableinstitutions that are capable and facilitated to handle newchallenges. The United States will have to make clear strategies thatpromote a truly international order that is based on marketdemocracies as a listening leader ready to give and take. Adoptingboth unilateral and multilateral foreign policy principles will haveto be the new game of American future foreign policies.
Applebaum, A. (2015). Obama and Europe: Missed signals, renewedcommitments. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12 December, 2015from:https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/obama-and-europe..
Christensen, T. J. (2015, Sep / Oct). Obama and Asia: Confrontingthe China challenge. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12 December,2015 from:http://www.kropfpolisci.com/obama.foreign.policy.christensen.pdf.
Lynch, M. (2015, Sep / Oct). Obama and the Middle East:Rightsizing the U.S. role. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12December, 2015 from:https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/obama-and-middle-east.
McCormick, J. M. (2014). American foreign policy during the Obamaadministration: Insights from the public. In Parmar, I., Miller,L. B., Ledwidge, M. (eds.), Obama and the world: New directions in USforeign policy. New York: Routledge.
Quinn, A. (2014). Realism and US foreign policy. In Parmar,I., Miller, L. B., Ledwidge, M. (eds.), Obama and the world: Newdirections in US foreign policy. New York: Routledge
Reid, M. (2015, Sep / Oct). Obama and Latin America: A promisingday in the neighborhood. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12December, 2015 from:http://www.kropfpolisci.com/obama.foreign.policy.reid.pdf
Rose, G. (2015, Sep / Oct). What Obama gets right: Keep calm andcarry the liberal order on. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12December, 2015 from:http://www.kropfpolisci.com/obama.foreign.policy.reid.pdf
Singh, R. (2014). Neoconservatives in the age of Obama. InParmar, I., Miller, L. B., Ledwidge, M. (eds.), Obama and the world:New directions in US foreign policy. New York: Routledge.
Steele, J. (2008). Obama says he’ll reshape US foreign policy.But can he? The Guardian / UK. Retrieved on 12 December, 2015from:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/may/14/barackobama.usforeignpolicy.
Stern, J. (2015, Sep / Oct). Obama and terrorism: Like it or not,the war goes on. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 12 December, 2015from: http://www.kropfpolisci.com/obama.foreign.policy.stern.pdf
Stokes, D. & Maher, D. (2014). Marxism and US foreign policy.In Parmar, I., Miller, L. B., Ledwidge, M. (eds.), Obama and theworld: New directions in US foreign policy. New York: Routledge.
Rohn, A. (2014). How Much Did The Vietnam War Cost? Retrieved on 12December, 2015 from:http://thevietnamwar.info/how-much-vietnam-war-cost/
Walker, D. (2014). Trends in U.S. Military Spending. Retrieved on 12 December, 2015 from:http://www.cfr.org/defense-budget/trends-us-military-spending/p28855