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)
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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More