Charles Kupchan and Bruce Jentleson
When it comes to handling matters of America's national security, Republicans have for decades commanded much more public confidence than Democrats. Not any longer. President
In his acceptance speech at the
Republicans mistake prudence for weakness.
Obama's statecraft may lack the hard edges and black-and-white absolutes of his predecessor's, but the abandonment of ideological excess in favour of principled pragmatism is, perhaps, the greatest asset of Obama's diplomacy.
Obama's formula for exercising American leadership rests on striking a balance between power and partnership geared to the dynamic nature of this 21st century world. The Bush administration relied too heavily on power and bluster alone -- a mistake that Romney seems all too prepared to repeat -- failing to understand that brute force and intimidation often do more to invite resistance than acquiescence. Instead, Obama has adhered to a centrist brand of US internationalism that provides leadership through teamwork and consensus building, relying on coercion only as a last resort.
Obama's embrace of multilateralism has shored up America's alliances around the globe. Allies again feel like partners that matter, not objects of American power. Opinion surveys reveal that in many countries, people hold much more positive views of
While emphasizing the value of partnership, Obama has by no means dismissed the need for power; he is anything but gun shy, as made clear by the killing of
At the same time, Obama understands the limits of US power.
He withdrew from
As to Obama's readiness to engage adversaries,
Engagement, of course, does not always produce quick results.
Obama's outreach to
Elsewhere in the
The turmoil in the Arab world has for now diverted attention away from the
Even amid ongoing challenges in the
Obama has admittedly fallen short on some fronts. Economic recovery at home and abroad has been elusive. Partly due to the sluggish economic conditions, he has made little headway in liberalizing international trade. He came into office pledging to close Guantanamo and to take determined steps to address global warming; neither has happened. On these and other issues, Obama has run up against powerful constraints at home and abroad. But the continuing diffusion of global power, fiscal austerity, and the debilitating polarization of American politics only make more impressive the many accomplishments of the Obama presidency.
The American public is aware of Obama's steady stewardship of US statecraft.
That is one of the reasons he has a very good chance of being re-elected in November, affording him four more years to build on the achievements of his first term.
- Principled Pragmatism Beats Bush-style Bluster
- Empire and Its Consequences
- Netanyahu Foolish to Take Sides in American Election
- Hurricane Sandy and the Living Planet
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey's Even-Odd System
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Mamaroneck Damage
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Brooklyn Looters Beware
- America Should Not Apologize for its Values
- Neil Armstrong: An American Hero United Us in Possibility and Wonder
- America Under Attack by Right-Wing Terrorists
- Cannabis May Be Legal in a Decade
- Curiosity -- America's Endangered Triumph
- Nuclear Righteousness
- The Selling of American Democracy: The Perfect Storm
- Record-Breaking Olympic Games for Team USA
- The Moments That Defined Team USA
- Robot Now, Human Later: America's Mars Dream
- Smoldering Planet
- Community in the Crosshairs
- Good Violence, Bad Violence
- In Colorado, Ordinary People Display True Heroism
- One Nation, Under the Gun
- Follow Police Chiefs' Guidance on Assault Weapons
- Assaulting America
- Death Penalty Foes Won't Take a Stand in Colorado
- The Election, the Presidency and Foreign Policy
- Cutting Pentagon Fat
- The Geopolitics of Compassion
- War and Climate Change
- Tilting at the United Nations Windmill
(c) 2012 Tribune Media Services