Spectacolul ideilor pe hartă

11/ian/2010 EURAST recomandă: Z. Brzezinski face analiza geopolitică a politicii externe a primului an de mandat B. Obama (1/6)

(În ultimul număr (ianuarie-februarie 2010 al revistei Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski (consilier de securitate al preşedinţilor SUA între 1977 şi 1981) face un bilanţ al primului an al administraţiei Barack Obama din punctul de vedere al liniilor de politică externă urmărite. Vom relua aici acest text în integralitate, în serial – EURAST)


From Hope to Audacity

Appraising Obama’s Foreign Policy (I)

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Foreign Affairs /// January/February 2010

The foreign policy of U.S. President Barack Obama can be assessed most usefully in two parts: first, his goals and decision-making system and, second, his policies and their implementation. Although one can speak with some confidence about the former, the latter is still an unfolding process.

To his credit, Obama has undertaken a truly ambitious effort to redefine the United States’ view of the world and to reconnect the United States with the emerging historical context of the twenty-first century. He has done this remarkably well. In less than a year, he has comprehensively reconceptualized U.S. foreign policy with respect to several centrally important geopolitical issues:

•  Islam is not an enemy, and the „global war on terror” does not define the United States’ current role in the world;

•  the United States will be a fair-minded and assertive mediator when it comes to attaining lasting peace between Israel and Palestine;

•  the United States ought to pursue serious negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as other issues;

•  the counterinsurgency campaign in the Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan should be part of a larger political undertaking, rather than a predominantly military one;

•  the United States should respect Latin America’s cultural and historical sensitivities and expand its contacts with Cuba;

•  the United States ought to energize its commitment to significantly reducing its nuclear arsenal and embrace the eventual goal of a world free of nuclear weapons;

•  in coping with global problems, China should be treated not only as an economic partner but also as a geopolitical one;

•  improving U.S.-Russian relations is in the obvious interest of both sides, although this must be done in a manner that accepts, rather than seeks to undo, post-Cold War geopolitical realities; and

•  a truly collegial transatlantic partnership should be given deeper meaning, particularly in order to heal the rifts caused by the destructive controversies of the past few years.

For all that, he did deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Overall, Obama has demonstrated a genuine sense of strategic direction, a solid grasp of what today’s world is all about, and an understanding of what the United States ought to be doing in it. Whether these convictions are a byproduct of his personal history, his studies, or his intuitive sense of history, they represent a strategically and historically coherent worldview. The new president, it should be added, has also been addressing the glaring social and environmental dilemmas that confront humanity and about which the United States has been indifferent for too long. But this appraisal focuses on his responses to the most urgent geopolitical challenges.


Obama has shown a genuine sense of strategic direction and a solid grasp of what today’s world is all about. Obama’s overall perspective sets the tone for his foreign-policy-making team, which is firmly centered in the White House. The president relies on Vice President Joe Biden’s broad experience in foreign affairs to explore ideas and engage in informal strategizing. National Security Adviser James Jones coordinates the translation of the president’s strategic outlook into policy, while also having to manage the largest National Security Council in history – its over-200-person staff is almost four times as large as the NSC staffs of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush and almost ten times as large as John F. Kennedy’s. The influence of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on national security strategy has been growing steadily. Gates’ immediate task is to successfully conclude two wars, but his influence is also felt on matters pertaining to Iran and Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has the president’s ear as well as his confidence, is likewise a key participant in foreign policy decisions and is the country’s top diplomat. Her own engagement is focused more on the increasingly urgent global issues of the new century, rather than on the geopolitical ones of the recent past.

Finally, Obama’s two trusted political advisers, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, who closely monitor the sensitive relationship between foreign and domestic politics, also participate in decision-making. (For example, both sat in on the president’s critical September meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.) When appropriate, policy discussions also include two experienced negotiators, George Mitchell, who conducts the Middle East peace negotiations, and Richard Holbrooke, who coordinates the regional response to the challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In effect, they are an extension of the president’s NSC-centered process.

On this team, Obama himself is the main source of the strategic direction, but, unavoidably, he is able to play this role on only a part-time basis. This is a weakness, because the conceptual initiator of a great power’s foreign policy needs to be actively involved in supervising the design of the consequent strategic decisions, in overlooking their implementation, and in making timely adjustments. Yet Obama has had no choice but to spend much of his first year in office on domestic political affairs.

As a result, his grand redefinition of U.S. foreign policy is vulnerable to dilution or delay by upper-level officials who have the bureaucratic predisposition to favor caution over action and the familiar over the innovative. Some of them may even be unsympathetic to the president’s priorities regarding the Middle East and Iran. It hardly needs to be added that officials who are not in sympathy with advocated policies rarely make good executors. Additionally, the president’s domestic political advisers inevitably tend to be more sensitive to pressures from domestic interest groups. This usually fosters a reluctance to plan for a firm follow-through on bold presidential initiatives should they suddenly encounter a foreign rebuff reinforced by powerful domestic lobbies. Netanyahu’s rejection of Obama’s public demand that Israel halt the construction of settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is a case in point.

 It is still too early to make a firm assessment of the president’s determination to pursue his priorities, as most of the large issues that Obama has personally addressed involve long-range problems that call for long-term management. But three urgent issues do pose, even in the short run, an immediate and difficult test of his ability and his resolve to significantly change U.S. policy: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the Afghan-Pakistani challenge. Each of these also happens to be a sensitive issue at home. (continuarea – mîine: despre impasul israelo-palestinian)


11 ianuarie 2010 - Posted by | Bibliografii, Geopolitica, Intelo | , , ,

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