News / USA

Expert: US Foreign Policy in 'Retreat'

Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
x
Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
TEXT SIZE - +
Pamela Dockins
A former senior advisor to the late Richard Holbrooke, who served as U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, says when it comes to foreign policy, the U.S. is in "retreat."
 
Vali Nasr, who is now dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), said the Obama administration has concluded that the best way forward for the United States is to do "less in the world."
 
On VOA's Press Conference USA, he said President Barack Obama had adopted a "minimalist foreign policy" strategy, partly due to what Nasr called an "overreach" by former President George W. Bush in handling the Iraq war.
 
Mr. Bush was widely criticized for mischaracterizations about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's so-called weapons of mass destruction as a justification for the war.
 
"We still are in the shadow of the Bush years," said Nasr, but added, "The world is not used to America suddenly disappearing."
 
Nasr said even if the U.S. made "mistakes," it is still considered a pivotal force for stability in many regions of the world.
 
Nasr outlines his theory in his new book. "The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat." His title borrows from a phrase used by former President Bill Clinton, who said "America stands alone as the world's indispensable nation."
 
Nasr said the U.S. approach to the Afghanistan conflict is an example of the Obama's administration's "retreat" on foreign policy.
 
The U.S. and other foreign combat forces plan to withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.
 
"Now that we have declared we are leaving, we have very little influence" in the region, said Nasr. 
 
He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Taliban and Pakistani officials had already begun "factoring" out the United States in the region and pursuing their own policies.
 
President Obama defended the planned U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during a speech Thursday on counterterrorism at the National Defense University.
 
"In the Afghan war theater, we must support our troops until the transition is complete at the end of 2014. That means we will continue to take strikes against high value al-Qaida targets, but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces," Obama said.
 
The president said the U.S. would no longer have the same needs for force protection by the end of 2014. He also said progress against al-Qaida elements in the region would reduce a need for drone strikes.
 
In spite of his overall criticism of Obama foreign policy, Nasr said the president does have "tremendous equities" at his disposal.
 
He said Obama's assets include his "global popularity," his "power of persuasion," and the "goodwill of the international community."
 
Nasr said the Obama administration could use the equities to more forcefully engage in the conflicts in Syria, Iran and Iraq. 
 
Johns Hopkins foreign policy analyst James Mann outlined a similar view in his book, "The Obamians," saying Obama's view of the U.S. role in global affairs was "more modest and downbeat" than the views of his predecessors, former presidents Bush and Clinton.
 
Mann said the Obama administration has placed greater emphasis on domestic issues.
 
In spite of comments from both Nasr and Mann, Obama gave no indication of a U.S. foreign policy retreat in Thursday's speech.
 
He cited his administration's foreign policy engagement in countries like Syria, Libya and Egypt, as well as negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
President Obama said in spite of the risks of active diplomacy, he believed "any retreat from challenging regions will only increase the dangers we face in the long run."

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid