USA | Inrikespolitiskt kan Barack Obamas skylla sina problem på republikanerna. Inom utrikespolitiken går det inte lika lätt att skylla på oviljan att kompromissa.
”Obama’s Iran Gamble” av Michael Crowley, Time
Obama’s vision didn’t change the world overnight. For much of his first term, his critics claimed vindication, particularly when it came to Iran, which rejected his early olive branch and marched steadily toward nuclear weapons capability. But Obama’s new nuclear deal with Tehran undermines that narrative. His biggest foreign policy gamble has achieved a success — a tentative and fragile one, to be sure — in a presidency desperately in need of forward momentum.
The deal could still go badly wrong, and the critics may yet be proved right. The U.S. and Iran are not friends, and serious people from Israel to Washington warn that Obama may find himself outfoxed by hard-liners in Tehran who still condone chants of ”Death to America.” It’s also possible that the document signed by Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Nov. 24 is the first step toward a legacymaking accomplishment, one that leaves the U.S. safer and the world more peaceful and meets that early promise of transformation through communication.
The agreement, which trades temporary relief for Iran from international economic sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program, lets Tehran off easy, Republican and even some Democrats complain. “We have just rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers told CNN.
“The man who used to walk on water”, The Economist
When a president speaks, the world listens. That is why Barack Obama’s credibility matters. If people do not believe what he says, his power to shape events withers. And recent events have seriously shaken people’s belief in Mr Obama. At home, the chaos of his health reform has made it harder for him to get anything else done. Abroad, he is seen as weak and disengaged, to the frustration of America’s allies.
Abroad, he has cool relations with foreign heads of government. The leaders of allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia scorn him. Europeans grumble that they are ignored when they want to be heard and spied on when they want to be left alone. Latin Americans feel neglected. Mr Obama’s “pivot” to Asia has made China feel threatened, without reassuring other Asians that America will be there in a crisis. Many doubt Mr Obama’s word—remember his “red line” over the use of chemical weapons in Syria?—and lament his inability to get things done.
At home, he seldom schmoozes with his political opponents—or even with his own side. Past presidents put in far more effort to charm and bully lawmakers, business moguls and anyone who could help them. Lyndon Johnson was famous for blackmailing congressmen to do the right thing, which is a hard art to practise if you barely know them. Mr Obama remains aloof—he has no regular breakfast or lunch even with the main Democrats in Congress. You cannot slap backs and twist arms if you are not in the same room.
”Asia’s Obama Problem” av Michael Crowley, Time
He was supposed to be on the island paradise of Bali, rubbing elbows with Asian heads of state and showing China that America is serious about being a Pacific power. Instead, on Oct. 8, Barack Obama was in the White House’s cramped briefing room, embarrassed and apologetic. Managing the shutdown of the U.S. government had forced Obama to scratch his long-planned trip to a pair of Asian summits that he’d been touting as critical venues for a display of renewed American leadership in the region. Now he was telling reporters at a White House press conference that his grounding was a setback for the country. ”It creates a sense of concern on the part of other leaders,” Obama said. ”It’s almost like me not showing up for my own party.”
Happy to console the disappointed heads of state in Bali was China’s President, Xi Jinping, who was the unchallenged heavyweight among the gathered Asian leaders. Xi, gloated the Hong Kong-based Communist Party newspaper Ta Kuang Pao, “has became the brightest political star on the Asian diplomatic platform. In contrast, America has lost an important chance to perform … The influence of the U.S. is questioned more and more.”
A potshot, perhaps. But Obama’s no-show fanned smoldering doubts about whether America has the will and the resources to meet the challenge of a rising and potentially aggressive China. Obama officials have even given the policy for doing so a name — the ”rebalance” to Asia, although insiders call it the Asia ”pivot,” conveying a crisp turn of direction for U.S. foreign policy.
”Fight this war, not the last one”, The Economist
Syria is not Iraq. The evidence that the regime has committed atrocities is clear beyond doubt. Even if Mr Assad defies America after a strike by unleashing yet more sarin, Mr Obama is not about to invade.
The arguments for intervening in Syria are narrower and less Utopian than they were in Iraq. First is the calculation of American interests. The international arena is inherently anarchic. Only laws and treaties that are enforced impose any order. By being the world’s policeman, America can shape the rules according to its own interests and tastes. The more America steps back, the more other powers will step in. If it is unwilling to act as enforcer, its own norms will fray. If it is even thought to be reluctant, then they will be tested. China already prods at America; Vladimir Putin’s Russia has begun to confront it—and not only over Syria. Whether Syria was a vital American interest before this attack was debatable, but not after Mr Assad’s direct challenge to Mr Obama’s authority.
Second is a reaffirmation of Western values. America’s potency comes not just from its capacity to project force, but also from the enduring appeal of the values invoked by its founders. Those are stronger than Mr Obama seems to think. With China’s economy slowing and its political corruption evident, the Beijing consensus will seem ever less enticing to citizens of the emerging world. Mr Bush tainted America’s values with inept invasion, prisoner abuse and imperial overstretch. Meeting Mr Assad’s atrocities with appropriate force will help to rebuild American moral authority in the world. If Congress must be involved, it should send that message just as loud and clear as it can—and so should Mr Obama’s allies.
Tidskriftsomslag: Time den 9 december 2013 (europeiska utgåvan), The Economist den 23 november 2013, Time den 21 oktober 2013 (europeiska utgåvan) och The Economist den 7-13 september 2013.