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Monday, March 4, 2013

Former State Dept Adviser -Obama a 'Dithering, Controlling, Risk-Averse' President

Yikes Vali Nasr, a university professor Vali Nasr, an academic who worked for Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in Mr. Obama’s first term does not have nice things to say about President Obama and his administration.

In his book “The Dispensable Nation,”  published next month. Mr. Nasr describes the White House’s handling of foreign policy as overly cautious, sometimes disengaged and at times politicized something he asserts has led to a general waning of American influence abroad.
"The president had a truly disturbing habit of funnelling major foreign policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers whose turf was strictly politics,"
Not surprising based on the naivete displayed in many of the president's foreign policy decisions.
The book sets out in detail how Mr Holbrooke, appointed with great fanfare in 2009, was systematically cut out of decision making as both he and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, tried to argue the merits of engaging with the Taliban and the dangers caused by the overuse of drones.
"The White House seemed to see an actual benefit in not doing too much," Prof Nasr writes, "The goal was to spare the president the risks that necessarily come with playing the leadership role that America claims to play in this region."
Apparently there was a major turf war between the State Department and the Obama political team.
“Turf battles are a staple of every administration, but the Obama White House has been particularly ravenous,” he writes. “Those in Obama’s inner circle, veterans of his election campaign, were suspicious of Clinton. Even after Clinton proved she was a team player, they remained concerned about her popularity and feared that she could overshadow the president.” 
Even so, he sees the President as a reactor rather than an actor in foreign policy:
"American foreign policy has been on a four-year autopilot, which I argue has been excessively risk averse and domestically focused. I don't see any clear decision yet to change that," said Mr Nasr in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
"I wrote this book to problematise the way Obama has approached this whole region, and that it is dangerous to disengage and confuse a low-level foreign policy with success in foreign policy," he concluded.
In the end Mr Nasr's book is a confirmation of what we all feared:
“The precepts were how to make the conduct of this war politically safe for the administration rather than to solve the problem in a way that would protect America’s long-run national security interests,” he said. 
We've learned that over and over with Obama, it's never about what is good for America--it's all about what is politically good for Barack Obama

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