February 27th, 2014
10:36 PM ET

America plays its role in a changing world right

By Fareed Zakaria

The world is not in great disorder. It is mostly at peace with one zone of instability, the greater Middle East, an area that has been unstable for four decades at least — think of the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanese civil war, the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf War, the Iraq war, the Sudanese civil war, the Afghan wars and now the Syrian civil war. The Obama administration has not magically stopped this trail of tumult.

It is ironic that [Niall] Ferguson, a distinguished economic historian, does not even mention the Obama administration’s ambitious trade projects in Asia and Europe — certainly the most important trade initiative to come out of Washington in two decades and one that could have a powerful stabilizing effect in Asia. But in this respect, he reflects the views of most commentators who believe that U.S. leadership consists of muscular rhetoric and military action; if only Obama would bomb someone somewhere, the world would settle down and stop changing.

The fact that people can make these pleas for more intervention right after a decade of aggressive (and costly) American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is surprising.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: United States

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Mohd shafi naik

    America is dependent on wars.

    February 28, 2014 at 2:24 am | Reply
  2. matslats

    From this blog you would think America is the only country that does anything right.

    February 28, 2014 at 5:12 am | Reply
    • Fidel

      Yes. MATSLATS, you are right about what interpretation the person who wrote this would want everybody else to believe. This is another good example of the lack of understanding of some people in American Journalism about world's issues. While Americans as a people are very generous and people of good will, US Foreign Policies have always been mostly on the wrong side. The US has initiated the most number of wars. Mostly where there is oil in perspective. The US armies have invaded the most number of countries. So it is funny to hear the president and defense secretary of the US making themselves look as the two most ignorant persons in the whole world, by giving comments about Russia and saying this is intervention, and violation of International Laws. So what has been the US role in so may wars in which countries that have not attacked the US have been invaded by US troops. Unfortunately, news media inside the US is almost all useless.

      March 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    The world is changing, yet the role America plays under President Obama hasn't changed much, if one takes a look at President Eisenhower's era. In the eyes of Niall Ferguson and Richard Cohen, America seems to be "in retreat".

    February 28, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      In his Washington Post column of February 25, Cohen bemoans that "nationalism" morphing into "separatism" is on the way "to create instability". He puts the blame on the US for standing idly by, while people in Scotland, the Spanish Catalonia and Russian speakers in Ukraine are trying to break away. Indeed, "Yugoslavia, once one nation, is now effectively seven, Czechoslovakia is two, and the former Soviet Union is now 15 separate nations, one of them being Ukraine". Does Mr. Cohen deny the fact that these nations are better off today than they were under the old order? Further more he warns of "nationalistic oats", that are being sowed in Iraq, Syria, China and Ja pan.

      February 28, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        In his Wall Street Journal column of February 21, Mr. Ferguson speaks of a "geopolitical taper", saying the "fundamental shift" in US "national-security strategy" has "big repercussions for the world". He criticises President Obama for resorting soley to tough rhetoric, like "there will be consequences if people step over the line." He points out in cases of Ukraine and Syria Obama abstains from taking military actions. As a result, he asserts that "more people have died in the “Greater Middle East” under Obama than under George W. Bush".

        February 28, 2014 at 8:47 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Looking back to the 1950's, parallels can be drawn between Eisenhower and Obama. Eisenhower's time in office was dominated by the Cold War. He agreed to an armistice to end the Korean War and guaranteed US protection for South Vietnam. In 1956, Eisenhower surprised Britain and France by refusing to back them in the Suez crisis.

      February 28, 2014 at 8:49 am | Reply
  4. JAL

    This Is a well written article.

    February 28, 2014 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Is it really, JAL? Quite the contrary, the biggest problem this world has is this country's sticking it's nose into where it has no place! Evidently, this article was written by some mindless some mindless Tea Partier like Fareed Zakaria.

      February 28, 2014 at 11:37 am | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        By writing the article above, it does appear that Fareed Zakaria did join the Tea Party Movement, Patrick. He forgets to mention who jumped into Vietnam in the 1960's and the unspoken terror carried out around the world by the C.I.A. which is continuing to this day!

        February 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • L o l m f a o

        What's even funnier is that both Patrick and JosephQuintonMcCarthy are the same person, answering himself like the simp he is. Icons, fruit loop. We can see them.

        February 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Obama's presidency is focused on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He adopts a low-profile in foreign polices and lets others take the lead. In Libya Britain and France were the forces behind Gaddafi's fall. In Syria, he let Russia negotiate with the Assad regime in getting rid of the stockpiles of chemical weapons. In the Ukrainian conflict, he leaves it to the EU to mediate.

    February 28, 2014 at 8:51 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Don't forget j. von hettlingen, that Obama is still having people slaughtered by those ungodly drones and Apache helicopters in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. And he didn't attack Syria last summer only because Vladimir Putin managed to persuade him not to do so. By the way, Gitmo remains open where tortures still take place.

      February 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Reply
      • L o l m f a o

        We didn't attack Syria because Congress voted against it, not because your hero Putin did anything. God, you rewrite history constantly, simp.

        February 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
      • L o l m f a o

        Gitmo remains open because it would take an act of Congress to close. And Obama wants it closed. See where I'm going with this?

        February 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
  6. Asian

    It truly saddens me at how much hatred is directed against America. Truly.

    February 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  7. chrissy

    @ Asian those posting their displeasure with the US ARE Americans! And they dont hate their country they hate what politicians are doing to it and the citizens of it! The largest percentage of politicians are truly the spawn of satan!

    February 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  8. bobcat2u

    That is too true chrissy. While I can se the US being the Big Brother, the role of world enforcer needs to be ended. The insane lust for wealth and power so hard sought by former leaders has put the US in the list of bullies. We were never looked at like that before and personally think it stinks.

    February 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  9. No, America does not play it right

    There is not only one zone of instability, the greater Middle East – no, no way – Koreans (North and South) play secret wars and not public wars that America plays in Middle East and Africa. But America wants to lose, while we KOREANS always win wars – the strongest secret military in the world.

    March 1, 2014 at 5:26 am | Reply
  10. Quigley

    I read Fareed Zakaria's article above and it's 110% gobbldey= go-ook! This country is creating more problems worldwide than it's solving. We need to go back to Isolationism which is a great idea whose time is overdue!

    March 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  11. chrissy

    Lol @ Quigley well said and amusing as well! Too many egotrippincontrolfreaks running our country!

    March 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  12. haha678

    Anyways it seams as though tobacco and other miscelania lobbying almost fell out to the agenda now a days to government bullying. Rallys are now held not out of peace demonstrations but because a very green cause...to provokate for a tree hugging ideal wich in many cases does not always work. People have to come to terms that peace rallying is not a dire successful mondain way to assert the general publics way of life. It may look noble and harmless enough, but it does not always succeed and that is what needs to be taken into account if the so called peaceful protests did indead and can take place with peace in hand.

    March 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Reply

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