Obama Signals a Shift From Military Might to Diplomacy

The times are changin’ and President Obama delivers on a promise.  You might call it the end of a neoconservative foreign policy:

“But it also reflects a broader scaling-back of the use of American muscle, not least in the Middle East, as well as a willingness to deal with foreign governments as they are rather than to push for new leaders that better embody American values. “Regime change,” in Iran or even Syria, is out; cutting deals with former adversaries is in. ”

Via http://nyti.ms/1fDehfJ

The Geneva deal is just part of what was happening. Beneath public scrutiny a secret back channel diplomacy has been underway for some time, according to reporting in the WSJ. This may help explain why France balked initially–seeing that the talks had been underway for much longer than they had imagined.

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10 thoughts on “Obama Signals a Shift From Military Might to Diplomacy

  1. It’s a positive thought if we really can shift from using our military power to diplomacy, even if it comes with costs. Diplomacy is wonderful in that it opens doors with sometimes hostile countries, and I thought it was very wise of Obama to clearly state that he is willing to talk with any enemy leader. Diplomacy is also a popular option both throughout the world and internally. Unfortunately diplomacy can only do so much. It often takes a very long time with much give and take and almost always more give than you’re really willing to let go. The endings of agreements are also more blurred, and there’s considerably less control over events than using military power, where every move is a direct command.
    Overall, however, I think that moving towards diplomacy is a good decision and will be much more of a benefit than detriment to US relations with the rest of the world.

  2. eebashaw says:

    I think this is a good sign. I mean, otherwise why else did President Obama win the Nobel Peace Prize? If we as a nation or world are determined to step away from militaristic measures and, as he puts it, using American muscle, we are going to have to make deals with people that we do not like. President Reagan when he dealt with Gorbachev was not dealing with someone whose policies and ideals he agreed with. Despite that, President Reagan was able to deliver diplomatically by dealing with an enemy. The idea of continually changing regimes until they fit our ideals is now out. Instead, we are going to have to start living with people we disagree with. We are going to start having to live like real people. Although we do not agree with the ways that things are done in various countries throughout the world, if these leaders are not overstepping their bounds, it is not in the American government’s job description to do anything but work to get along with them. I think that President Obama is absolutely right. Though it is wrong to say that we will step completely away from military, that will probably never be possible, America is taking a definitive step towards real, difficult, worthwhile diplomacy.

  3. trawson7 says:

    I think both military might AND diplomacy are necessary in the international community. I think diplomacy is the best option and am glad that we have been engaged in it in Iran. But I also think diplomacy also only works when the other side is trustworthy and invested in even coming to a consensus in the first place, which is something I have hard time believing is always the case. Also, sometimes diplomacy is circumvented when the other side attacks first; in the case of 9/11, I think a militaristic response was a good one. In sum, I guess I think the diplomacy vs. military strength question can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis. A military response to the Cuban Missile Crisis would have proved both catastrophic and potentially apocalyptic, but a diplomatic response to Pearl Harbor would have probably been ineffective. However, having said that, I definitely desire diplomacy!

  4. alexkhirst says:

    While diplomacy is a much more positive force, instead of military force being used, the difficulty of diplomacy also makes the situation tricky for President Obama. Because it is hard to get leaders to follow through on commitments and agreements, soft power is more difficult to wield than hard power. However, hard power ultimately always leads to greater conflict and violence and soft power should often priority in resolving crises. Thus, Obama’s attempt at being a diplomat with Syria is probably a better road, no matter how frustrating it may be.

  5. It could be that I am completely out of touch with the rest of the world’s feeling on President Obama, but am I the only one who doesn’t trust his word at all? And if others feel a lack of trust as I do, would you trust him to keep his word in political negotiations? The string of scandals that have peppered his presidency have almost guaranteed that President Obama is a politician in the worst sense of the word, and therefore his words and promises seem to hold about as much permanence and weight as the current most popular fad for adolescents. I will be interested in seeing how the global community reacts to his “diplomacy” when it seems to me that his apparent ideals are little more than the best option he sees on the table today.

  6. ianhesterly says:

    I don’t disagree with the principle of this change, but I certainly disagree with some of the situations with which it is being applied. It is embarrassing how the situation in Syria was handled. To draw a red line, and then do nothing when al-Assad crosses it, is ridiculous and certainly weakens any diplomatic efforts going forward. I don’t believe that we have the world’s respect right now, and that is something that is critical to being successful in diplomacy. What successful diplomatic measures has Obama achieved? Our ties with Pakistan are severely strained, we let a mass murderer in Syria get away with using WMD’s against his own people (after saying we wouldn’t let that happen), an ambassador was killed in Libya, Germany and Brazil are ticked off at us, Russia pretty much is giving us the bird at every opportunity (Snowden as well as Syria), knowing that our president doesn’t have the will to stand up to them. As far as this deal with Iran, how did it help America?? We helped Iran and at the same time we upset Israel. But hey, I guess we got to claim that we were being “diplomatic.” Getting walked all over would be a more accurate description.

  7. I’m not sure that I buy the whole “military back off” thing. These are the same claims that Senator Obama made on the campaign trail, yet we all know what has happened with drone activity during his presidency. Most recently, we’ve seen US military aircraft flying through the contested airspace above the Senakaku islands (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/27/us-china-defense-usa-idUSBRE9AP0X320131127). This is not a display of diplomatic might. This is flexing our military muscles in the face of the Chinese. We always hope for diplomatic responses, but I think the allure of the might of the US military is just too great to ever fully turn away from for a President.

  8. araujophm says:

    This is a good step towards the future for the world. All of the nations that before hated the feeling that the United States were trying to control them, now have the opportunity to create ties and diplomatic relations with the US. When a country isn’t willing to negotiate, others don’t cooperate, but now that the US is more open to diplomatic discussions, I feel there will be more opportunities to compromise and reach a middle term where all parties are benefited.

  9. alexechu1 says:

    This shift to diplomacy is promising for improving the world’s perception of the United States. Especially in light of recent statements about American “exceptionalism,” and the decades-old interventionist reputation of the United States, Obama’s approach to foreign affairs is a new step in building world peace. I am sure the world will appreciate an American approach that involves greater discussion and multilateral involvement. Perhaps, if this policy continues through future administrations, this could hark the beginning of a new era in the way world affairs are handled.

  10. josephdecker says:

    I agree that something has to be done to change the world’s opinion about the United States. Too often we meddle with other countries’ affairs and get involved in things we frankly have no business in. A shift to diplomacy shows other countries that we are willing to negotiate instead of merely flex our military muscles. The time for America to engage in more multilateral agreements has come. That being said, there is a certain level a trust that must exist in order for any real negotiations to take place. Sometimes that is difficult to tell. In the end, I believe this push towards diplomacy will pave the way for a brighter future with other countries.

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