One way to look at the first year and a quarter of the Obama administration is as a time when Obama was tested by foreign leaders who pushed and pushed to determine the limits of this administration. In most cases — from North Korea to Iran, from Pakistan to China, from Moscow to Jerusalem — the result was they found an administration unwilling to push back hard. Oh, there was plenty of rhetoric from the administration in each instance — or at least in most instances. But hard actions were few and far between.
The consensus among foreign leaders and domestic critics of the president was that he was long on talk and short on action. Whether that was due to lack of domestic political will, dwindling resources, an ideological bent or sheer inexperience was open to debate although all these theories have been advanced.
But I wonder if another way to look at this period was as one in which Obama and his team was of the world. Knowing who would push and how was key to them moving from a reactive foreign policy, managing what they inherited, to one in which they could devise their own strategies. Whether this was a plan or not, it seems likely that it will be a consequence of… >>>