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Analytical Summary Introduction
Barack Obama is unique among American presidents. He is the first black president. He is also a two-term president. For many in America he is a hero for overcoming obstacles that face minorities today. He went to Harvard Law School and became a lawyer. Then he was a community organizer, an Illinois state senator, a senator in Congress, and finally, the President of the United States. His presidency is nearly over. He has had many successes as well as some setbacks. Many love him. Others cannot stand him. One area where people are divided is his foreign policy.
Analytical Summary Example Body Paragraph
Charles Krauthammer believes Obama has had many foreign policy disasters. In his piece, “Obama’s foreign policy of denial,” he notes that a snub by Saudi King Abdullah, a failure to secure a trade agreement with Japan, and specifically, Russia’s annexation of eastern Ukraine all prove Obama’sforeign policy is flawed and illogical. Krauthammer says that Obama is concerned with containing problems. What has he done specifically in Eastern Europe following the invasion of Ukraine? He gave Ukraine food alone (Charles Krauthammar, “Obama’s foreign policy of denial,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2014, p. 1). He sent 150 troops apiece to Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland (Krauthammar, p. 3). Further, the State Department began a Twitter campaign to stop Russia (Krauthammar, p. 3).
According to Krauthammer none of these is sufficient. Can the Russians get the message? Truman, in 1947 sent a clear message when he provided weapons and finances to the needy Greeks and Turks (Krauthammar, p. 2). The Russians backed off. But they are not lying down this time. While the world is angry with Russia for what they did, the Russians themselves support it, as was witnessed by Putin’s rising popularity in Russia following the invasion (Krauthammar, p. 2). Moreover the ruble and Moscow stock exchange rose after the announcement of the sanctions (Krauthammar, p. 2). Obama’s containment is not containment. Obama’s foreign policy looks successful to him, but he is deceiving himself (Krauthammar, p. 3). He is denying the obvious.
John Cassidy, among others, provides a counter to the negative assessment of Obama’s foreign policy. Like Machiavelli, who taught that self-interests must dominate, Obama believes that taking care of home issues outweighs other considerations. So, Ukraine was not a priority and Syria was not a priority. This does not mean he simply stood by. In the case of Ukraine, he supported sanctions and sent food, but provided no troops. In the case of Syria he led a coalition of nations which encouraged Assad to give up the use of chemical weapons, which Assad eventually mostly did (John Cassidy, “Obama’s foreign-policy “failures”: a word for the defense,” The New Yorker, May 7, 2015, p. 3).
Not moving further in either of these situations could be considered “cold-hearted self interest” (Cassidy, p. 2). Cassidy doesn’t shy away from this biting language though he prefers a more positive word: realism (Cassidy, p. 2). His critics assert that he is “largely content to react to events overseas based on domestic political considerations” (Cassidy, p. 2). He himself believes that “there are times when there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be solvable by us” (Cassidy, pp. 4-5). A realist looks at the situations and determines what is in the best interest of his people and acts accordingly. And no more.
Analytical Summary Conclusion
It is difficult to say which author is correct. Both make good points. However, I slightly favor Krauthammar. Obama’s Machiavellian, realist-based behavior seems good at first glance—particularly since the US populace seems to agree—but this way of reacting could quickly backfire. If Russia is not content with eastern Ukraine and decides to invade western Ukraine or the Baltic States or Poland (or Syria), the US will be blamed for not having stepped in earlier. And, 150 troops cannot and will not stop Putin.
Foreign challenges are part of the president of the United States’ day-to-day work load. So, standing by on the sidelines—his support for sanctions notwithstanding—sends a potentially harmful message to the world’s greedy, dictator types.Cassidy is right to say that home issues must take priority and if the US is war-weary, sending boots to other places doesn’t make sense. But, Obamacertainly has more options in his arsenal than war: covert operations, maneuvering the navy, the armies of other countries (even Machiavelli seemed to affirm such a measure), hard-core sanctions, and monetary solutions. These solutions have worked in other situations and could work once more. Certainly, America is tired of dead bodies scattered on several continents. But Americans must also realize it is our turn to police the world, for better or for worse. High responsibility might mean high sacrifice. The American people may be weary of battles, but we would be much more weary if these battles were in our own land.
Cassidy, John. “Obama’s Foreign-Policy ‘Failures’: A Word for the Defense.” The New Yorker, May 7, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/obamas-foreign-policy-failures-a-word-for-the-defense.
Krauthammer, Charles. “Charles Krauthammer: Obama’s Foreign Policy of Denial.” The Washington Post, May 1, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-obamas-foreign-policy-of-self-delusion/2014/05/01/3e17ad48-d16c-11e3-937f-d3026234b51c_story.html.