To those who complain that President Barack Obama doesn’t make foreign policy but instead makes speeches, the following article on one of Obama’s key foreign policy handlers is of particular interest:
See Mark Lander, “Worldly at 35, and Shaping Obama’s Voice,” New York Times, March 15, 2013.
Other Obama foreign policy handlers include Tom Donilon, The National Security Advisor.
See The Trenchant Observer, “Obama’s foreign policy juggernaut, including Tom Donilon, and the risks of hubris (updated), January 27, 2012.
With John Kerry, an experienced foreign policy expert, as Secretary of State, one of the questions facing President Obama in his second term is whether he will continue his emphasis on making speeches instead of foreign policy, or rather will revert to the more traditional form of foreign-policy making based on diplomatic reporting from U.S. diplomats around the world on the scene, flowing up through the bureaucracy to the Secretary of State, and from the Secretary of State to the President. To be sure, the bureaucracy must be working well for the latter option to be attractive.
Both of course, always occur. The question is which has priority, and which first shapes the president’s thinking on what is going on in the world and what the realistic options available to the country in formulating foreign policy and making foreign policy decisions actually are. Moreover, good foreign policy tends to be based on the development of good strategy, which is more likely to come from foreign policy experts with field experience under their belts than from speechwriters.
Which come first in the president’s mind, making speeches, or making foreign policy and foreign policy decisions?
What attention does he give to the development and implementation of foreign policy strategy, rather than merely responding to the pressures and circumstances of the moment?
Who is going to lead the foreign policy of the United States, John Kerry or Ben Rhodes?
The Trenchant Observer