Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Listening Phase is Over

And so I argue in my ocntribution to World Politics Review's symposium on the first hundred days of the Obama Administration.

Some of my points:

The problem that the president faces is that he cannot restore trust in America's judgment in the span of a few months. Eight years ago, Charles Krauthammer had noted that U.S. leadership within the international system was sustained because the American-led order provided for "open seas, open trade and open societies lightly defended." In 2009, many countries feel far less secure because of U.S. policies. ... the executive branch of the U.S. government is not the one with the power to act. So President Obama can talk about change, but much of his leverage vis-à-vis the rest of the world is constrained by Congress. And given his ambitious domestic agenda, it's valid to wonder how much political capital his chief of staff will recommend he deploy on foreign affairs.

I conclude: "Obama has succeeded in clearing the decks of the baggage of the past. What remains to be seen is whether he has now positioned his administration to move forward on his foreign policy agenda. On this question, the jury is still out."

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