November 6th, 2014
11:43 PM ET

Will Obama become a foreign policy president?

By Fareed Zakaria

Despite this week’s elections, President Obama has the time and scope to do big things over the next two years. But they will have to be in the world beyond Washington. Next week’s trip to Asia would be a good place to start. In fact, it’s odd that Obama has not already devoted more time, energy and attention to foreign policy. It has been clear for a while that there is little prospect of working with the Republican Party on major domestic initiatives. This is hardly unprecedented. Administrations often devote their last few years in office to international affairs, an arena where they have latitude for unilateral action.

If Obama wants significant accomplishments in foreign policy in his last years in office, he will first need the discipline with which he began his presidency. The incremental, escalating interventionism in Syria and Iraq — were it to continue — would absorb the White House’s attention, the public’s interest and the country’s military resources. It also would not succeed, if by success we mean the triumph of pro-democratic forces in the Syrian civil war.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. chri§§y

    @ Its just an opinion, we all wish you were joking but...its not a joking matter. And its rather easy for some to blame Obama than to admit what horrible mistakes WE have made in voting in members of the clown posse called congress! And we have! Now we must make ourselves be heard loud and clear as to WHAT is expected of them in the future and WHAT WE will no longer tolerate! Business as usual must become a thing of the past!!!

    November 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • Hailey

      S hut up. Nonsense

      November 8, 2014 at 4:00 am | Reply
  2. Philip

    Don't pit China with India. Examine the progress China has had over U.S. First chinaman laced restaurant food with neuro toxic flavor enhancers. Now they wave billion dollar bills around in front of peoples noses. America has already been sold you ninnies. And not just down the river. Down the debt hole. Debt to one foreign bank.

    November 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  3. Blue Saffron

    The electoral system we have doesn't work. The majoritarian democratic system has lived its utility. We need an overhaul. We need to evolve a new paradigm domestically. The same applies internationally.

    November 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  4. Philip

    Learn from the history of nations. Lesson two.
    People in debt to the King and to The Church of England and The Bank of England.
    Hence debtors prisons. Forced labor camps.
    History of nations repeats itself precisely the same over and over again for 5 thousand years. A broken record to be sure.

    November 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  5. Philip

    Ummm. Do you think Americans living beyond their means (aka living on credit) had anything to do with financial loss? Ya think? Der

    November 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  6. Blue Saffron

    One has to compare China and India. Both populous places with dialectically opposed progress over the years. Some of these huge populations as India are/will become more of burden on world resources. 95% of India does not have toilets but nuclear bombs. Case of misplaced priorities. Go figure. Now watch the vultures swoon on me. Why do you talk about India, they say. What should I be doing? Ignoring a country of 1.5 billion people? Lol

    November 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  7. j. von hettlingen

    It's true what Robert Zoellick and John Gaddis say about Richard Nixon and Henry Kissenger writing history in the 1970s with their foreign policies – "arms control with the Soviet Union, the opening to China, shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East". The Vietnam War was a debacle and Nixon had to resign in 1974, following the Watergate scandal. Nevertheless on the diplomatic front, he had been successful.
    Inspite of the political blow, Obama could still benefit from the GOP majority in the Congress. This would allow him to re-focus on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). Republicans are more business-friendly and support international trade, while Obama met resistence from Harry Reid, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, who is going to be replaced by Mitch McConnell. Republicans will also approve higher military spending and the deployment of troops to Asia and the Middle East.
    An rapprochement with Iran would definitely write history. Obama had reached out to Iran soon he came to office in 2009. A few months later Iran was engulfed in post-election protests, and he lost interest. To join forces with Iran in fighting ISIS is a good idea. The question is whether Obama will get the support he needs from the Republicans, who are Israel's staunch allies. They still haven't forgotten the humiliation suffered during the 1979 hostage crisis, and Israel is determined to denuclearise Iran. Yet should the Saudis be interested in a "Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, brokered by Washington", it would definitely "alter the landscape of the Middle East and reduce tensions". Indeed Obama has plenty of options to make the rest of his presidency relevant. He shouldn't hesitate and go ahead!

    November 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Opening up to China was the best thing Nixon ever did! Now we need to open up to Cuba but the money-grubbing, self-serving, right-wing politicians in Washington stand in the way! Besides, Obama will do only what's politically "correct".

      November 8, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply
  8. Blue Saffron

    More of same. America has become an escort service supplying equipped armed forces to ensure oil supply and fight ghosts from air that don't exist..... instead of pretty girls (Hillary excepted?). There is no foreign policy. Now an hour ago it was announced Obama is sending more troops to Iraq. LMFAO. Thousands of Bin Ladens have emerged. More are in the waiting. The bad guys are the ones framing the American Foreign Policy. Need I say more?

    November 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  9. chri§§y

    Finally @ Blue Saffron, a post from you i can totally agree with. Your post @ 3:38 was spot on! And at least THIS time troops being sent to Iraq are at their request and not because some oil baron politicians want to steal from Iraq and put our soldiers lives on the line for their personal agenda!

    November 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  10. Blue Saffron

    So much for American foreign policy. The only winners in this war on terror have been Russia and India. A billion has already been spent on fighting ISIS. Another $7 Billion have been requested of Congress today.

    The notion that we are going to be safe sitting on the mainland is a fairy tale. We are digging ourselves deeper and will not be able to get out of it.

    What we lack in foreign policy is common sense.

    November 7, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  11. Phlip

    America has become as she was designed to become. The Twin Towers were in fact designed to come down.

    November 7, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • Hailey

      What a stupid insensitive comment. Are you a terrorist from India? Stupid i diot.

      November 8, 2014 at 4:00 am | Reply
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    If Obama does become a foreign policy President, he will go down as one of the worst ones ever. Our current foreign policies are the world's biggest problem.

    November 8, 2014 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • Dr. Silverstein

      For decades, now. The world has viewed US and Israeli leaders as those standing in the way of peace for many years now.

      November 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  13. Paid Basher

    I bet Indians aren't sure about their president either.

    November 8, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
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