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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid