CHALLENGES TO AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN THE SECOND OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Diplomacy, Alliance Management, and Partisanship
James A. Baker III
In an interview with The Fletcher Forum, former Secretary of State James Baker discusses his years of experience in government and addresses some of the key economic, diplomatic, and political challenges facing the United States as President Obama enters a second term in office. According to the former Secretary, among the key challenges is a continued stalemate in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, the uneasy but important strategic relationships with Russia and China, and an increasingly partisan political atmosphere in Washington.
Emerging Challenges to American Arms Control and Security Policy
In a conversation with The Fletcher Forum, former Secretary of Defense William Perry reflects on his time in government and identifies some of the key challenges facing the second Obama administration in the areas of arms control, the use of military force abroad, and relations with Russia and China. He also discusses the fiscal and budgetary challenges facing the country today compared to his time as Secretary, and comments on his experience during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Engagement with Iran: The Sequel
Early in his second administration, President Barack Obama is likely to launch a new diplomatic initiative in a bid to resolve the standoff between Iran and the international community over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Suzanne Maloney argues that this revival of Washington’s diplomatic ambitions toward Tehran must differ from its iteration in 2009, noting that there is an urgent need for diplomacy even if it is not guaranteed to succeed.
Can the International Treaty System Address Climate Change?
William R. Moomaw
While individual weather events are not attributable to global warming, the prevailing climate does define weather patterns. Today’s climate is measurably warmer than that of fifty or one hundred years ago, causing a variety of changes that are consistent with the projected results of climate change and provide us with a preview of what might happen if global temperatures continue to rise. William R. Moomaw argues that a reconfigured international approach is essential to achieving a global solution to climate change, but this reconfigured approach must be led by actions of both the G2: the United States and China.
Obama’s Second Term Middle East Policy: Will Words Become Actions?
The Middle East’s problems are complex and even well-intentioned efforts to ameliorate them do not always pay off. Michele Dunne argues that in President Obama’s second term, however, there will be several opportunities to adjust the U.S. approach to the region and to implement proactive policies that advance American interests and regional stability.
“The Power of Balance:” Advancing US-ASEAN Relations Under the Second Obama Administration
In order to further advance U.S.-ASEAN relations, Prashanth Parameswaran argues that the second Obama administration must achieve balance in four strategic areas: first, leveraging its reinvigorated bilateral relationships to support multilateral endeavors and boost ASEAN integration and capacity; second, extending its previous focus on security and defense issues in Southeast Asia to the economic and trade dimensions that demand greater attention; third, finding a nuanced approach in its China policy that involves cooperation where possible but confrontation where it is required; finally, reducing gaps between its proclaimed commitments to the region and the resources available to achieve them.
Twenty-First Century Statecraft in Action
Michael A. Hammer
In a seminal speech to commemorate Human Rights Day in December 2011, Secretary Hillary Clinton declared, “human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights.” To date, the video of this simple but poignant message is the highest performing live video since the State Department began publishing video products and it has been viewed through the State Department’s properties in over 100 countries. Michael A. Hammer describes the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs practice of what Secretary Clinton has termed “Twenty-First Century Statecraft,” seeking to further U.S. foreign policy and national security interests, as well as telling America’s compelling story to the world through the newest platforms that provide the greatest reach.
Articles and Features
Intellect and Decent Purpose
George R. Packard (F59, F63)
Remarks on the occasion of the Annual Academic Convocation, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Delivered September 7, 2012.
The Devolution of American Power
Much of the discussion about the changing distribution of power in the world focuses on whether the power of the United States is declining, whether new global powers are rising to displace it, and how these changes may affect the international order. Amitai Etzioni argues instead that the changing global order involves regional pluralism, rather than a rise of multipolarity or a displacement of the United States as the predominant hegemonic power. He concludes that, for the foreseeable future, the rising challengers will remain largely regional powers.
Religious Constitutionalism in Egypt: A Case Study
Egypt is in the early phases of democratization. At the heart of the battle to build a new Egypt is the choice of whether to make Egypt a religious country or a secular one. Article 2 of the Constitution of 2012, which lists the principles of Islamic Sharia as the main source of legislation, plays a key role in this battle. Mohamed Abdelaal traces the historical roots of Article 2 and provides a critical analysis of its significance for Egyptian society.
Indisputable Violations: What Happens When the United States Unambiguously Breaches a Treaty?
David A. Koplow
In examining three contemporaneous examples of conspicuous U.S. violations of binding international legal agreements, David Koplow suggests what their consequences might be for U.S. foreign policy and explains how destructive they are for efforts to enhance respect for international law. He argues against the hypocrisy inherent in traditional U.S. treaty behavior and contends that, in the long run, a pattern of greater respect for international treaty obligations would better serve U.S. and global interests.
A State of Hybridity: Lessons in Institutionalism From a Local Perspective
Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the rural areas of Timor-Leste since 2008, Deborah Cummins examines the various ways in which communities make sense of their local governance environment by simultaneously navigating co-existing state-based and customary governance forms and institutions. She argues that by recognizing local realities and taking local politics seriously, state- building can be grounded in the lived experience of Timorese communities.
Somalia: Whose Country is it, Anyway?
Somalia is plagued by severe political disintegration and persistent dependence on foreign intervention. Drawing on her extensive experience reporting from Somalia, Mary Harper discusses the myriad of foreign forces and Mogadishu’s inability to control the centrifugal tendencies of existing and emerging semi- autonomous units throughout the country, despite the fact that balancing these disparate forms of authority is crucial for securing the developing state. Yet, she observes that new leadership in Mogadishu holds promise for reducing corruption and that there are signs that the international community may be willing to cede more responsibility to Somalis to determine their own political future, security, and development.
Addressing Perception in the Delivery of Education in Conflict and Crisis
Amy R. West
Education for All (EFA) as a priority in conflict and crisis has become an increasingly popular focus of practitioners and researchers alike along the relief to development continuum. Amy R. West argues that it is critical to know, when providing for EFA interventions, whether education’s reputation has manifested itself in a community as an indomitable evil or a leveragable asset, or both. She notes that the way perceptions are understood and addressed may mean the difference between whether education interventions in conflict have any real impact or not.
CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein reviews Salafism in Yemen: Transnationalism and Religious Identity by Laurent Bonnefoy. Published by Hurst and Company; London, United Kingdom in 2011. Available in the United States through Columbia University Press, New York in 2012; 289 pages.