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Obama's Latest Foreign Slip

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
August 17, 2009
The Daily Beast

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Any time Washington makes a truly dumb foreign policy move, it generally looks plausible on the surface. So when the Pentagon announced that Georgia would dispatch 750 troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorists at America's side, it sounded just fine. Besides, these Georgians would actually be empowered to fight, unlike most of our mandate-restricted NATO allies. It all seemed like such a no-brainer that only The New York Times and a few others even bothered to report the good news.

But like too many foreign policy no-brainers, this one was fraught with potential perils and bad omens. Moscow will surely stew over American interference in its nasty relations with its Georgian neighbor. And this will surely retard Obama administration efforts to "reset" ties with Russia to allow for cooperation on key issues like Iran. And it might even cause Georgians to miscalculate American military support against Russia and foolishly provoke Moscow. And because it puts all these things at risk for token help in Afghanistan, it sets off alarm bells about the Obama team's understanding of priorities and strategy.

There's an iron law of decision making in Washington: Whenever an administration does anything spectacularly dumb, there's a "good" reason for it.

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