Yesterday, without quite knowing it, Roger Cohen nominated another candidate for the Now They Tell Us Award.
The candidate: Vali Nasr a former Obama administration foreign policy hand, now dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Given his credentials, Nasr's indictment bears close attention.
Nasr’s new book has not yet been published, but Roger Cohen has summarized its central points clearly and cogently:
In a book called “The Dispensable Nation,” to be published in April, Nasr delivers a devastating portrait of a first-term foreign policy that shunned the tough choices of real diplomacy, often descended into pettiness, and was controlled “by a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers.”
He quotes Nasr's indictment of Obama administration foreign policy:
It is not going too far to say that American foreign policy has become completely subservient to tactical domestic political considerations.
As for the decline of American influence in the world, the fault, Nasr says, lies in a failure of American leadership.
Cohen describes the book’s perspective:
… it paints a persuasive picture of an American decline driven not so much by the inevitable rise of other powers as by “inconsistency” that has “cast doubt on our leadership.”
An administration that bases its foreign policy on domestic political considerations will not really have a foreign policy. Inconsistent describes it nicely.
Nasr’s view, via Cohen:
Nowhere was this inconsistency more evident than in Afghanistan. Obama doubled-down by committing tens of thousands more troops to show he was no wimp, only to set a date for a drawdown to show he was no warmonger. Marines died; few cared.
Nasr is, of course, a liberal. He defends his old boss Holbrooke and is at special pains to exculpate Hillary Clinton for all of the foreign policy inconsistencies that have plagued the Obama administration.
By saying that foreign policy was run out of the White House and that it specifically marginalized Hillary Clinton, Nasr is ensuring that, when the next foreign policy debacle arises, the former Secretary of State will emerge unscathed.