Leslie H. Gelb says Obama captured the political center at home on foreign policy – a feat for a Democrat – because he avoided costly mistakes abroad. He understood the limits of U.S. power, but not its strengths when encased in a good strategy, and thus failed to achieve solutions to big problems abroad.
Fifty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. Every president since John F. Kennedy has tried to learn from what happened back then. Today, it can help U.S. policymakers understand what to do -- and what not to do -- about Iran, North Korea, China, and presidential decision-making in general.
Yet another bout of worry about long-term U.S. decline has generated yet another countersurge of defensive optimism. What new books by Robert Kagan and Robert Lieber miss, however, is the critical role played by multilateral institutions in the perpetuation of the United States' global leadership.
Democratic revolutionaries always confront the same problem: how to replace the old order without replicating its flaws. A new biography of the French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre's reveals that today's radicals might learn from Robespierre's failure to resolve that dilemma.
Michael Cohen and Micah Zenko argue that Mitt Romney's foreign policy speeches both wrongly inflate the threats that America faces and project weakness by having no confidence in America's ability to meet any such challenges.
Judged by the standard of protecting U.S. interests, things have worked out quite well for the Obama administration; judged by the standard of midwifing a new global order, they remain a work in progress.
A pair of books by Charles Mann describe life in the Americas before and after Columbus linked the hemispheres and kicked off the first era of globalization. It turns out that the New World was far more technologically advanced than subsequent generations have realized, with plenty to teach the Old -- especially about how to simultaneously exploit and preserve key natural resources.
Gone are the days when the United States led major powers in the decisions that ruled the planet, writes Ian Bremmer at the Daily Beast. Could Obama or Romney make the most of our new reduced role in international affairs?
Obama's recent foreign policy has focused on asking for space to delay or stop history until after the 2012 elections. But Jackson Diehl points out that the problem with making space is that it tends to get filled by others.
CFR's James M. Lindsay remembers President Harry Truman's announcement on April 11, 1951, that he had dismissed General Douglas MacArthur as commanding general of U.S. forces in Korea, and discusses the principle of civilian control of the military.
CFR's James M. Lindsay remembers the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC, on April 4, 1949, and discusses the difficulty inherent in pursuing fundamental changes to a nation's foreign policy.
Historical precedent shows that fears of Romney following a popularly dictated foreign policy are unjustified; as president, Romney would have leeway in fashioning popular opinion, especially on war policy, writes Robert W. Merry in The National Interest.