Swoop: Washington’s World: April 28th – May 4th, 2014: A Complicated Foreign Policy

Swoop: Washington’s World: April 28th – May 4th, 2014: A Complicated Foreign Policy
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Swoop: “Introducing the quadrennial diplomacy review on 22nd April, Secretary of State Kerry commented that contemporary diplomacy is “more difficult than the Cold War.” From conversations we hold with senior Administration figures, we certainly get the impression that US foreign policy decision-makers currently feel that the international deck is stacked against them.

Symptomatic of this sentiment is the fact that as President Obama continues his visit to East Asia, much media comment has focused on doubts about the credibility of the US global posture. As one senior State Department strategist commented privately to us: “Little is going right. We cannot budge Putin on Ukraine, Asian trade talks are stalled, the Middle East peace process is on life support, Assad is winning in Syria, the North Koreans are threatening a nuclear test. We do not have the means or the will to respond to horrendous massacres in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.”

A new test of US will power will present itself in the coming days when, if as expected, the Russians do not back down over Ukraine and a new set of sanctions is announced. There is some tough talk in Washington about how broad and painful these will be, but Treasury officials tell us that sanctions that both damage Russian interests while sparing pain from US corporations are hard to find. The final sanctions may turn out to have plenty of loopholes.

Returning to Asia, US officials are pleased that the Chinese response to Obama’s statement that the Senkaku islands dispute was included in the US-Japan defense treaty was relatively formulaic. Administration analysts will count Obama’s visit as a success if it provides reassurance to US allies while maintaining the relationship with Beijing in functioning order. Behind the scenes in Washington, and especially in the Pentagon, support for an outright commitment to “containing” China is building. White House contacts tell us that Obama is resistant to this approach, so does not want it to emerge as the fixed US policy toward China.”

Source: Swoop
Photo Credits: President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden before boarding Air Force One at Pittsburgh International Airport prior to departure from Pittsburgh, Pa., April 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)