A former State Department policy expert charges in a new book that the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy has damaged American influence abroad.
Vali Nasr’s book, “The Dispensable Nation,” also reveals that the Obama administration allowed turf battles and politics to help shape U.S. foreign policy, a situation that resulted in then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having to go directly to the president on a number of policy issues, according to The New York Times
“Turf battles are a staple of every administration, but the Obama White House has been particularly ravenous,” penned Nasr, according to the Times. “Those in Obama’s inner circle, veterans of his election campaign, were suspicious of Clinton. Even after Clinton proved she was a team player, they remained concerned about her popularity and feared that she could overshadow the president.”
In taking policy issues directly to Obama, Clinton found a way to get around the “Berlin Wall” of White House staffers, Nasr recalled.
Nasr served as a senior adviser to the late Richard C. Holbrooke, who was the Obama administration’s first special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. An excerpt from his book will be published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine but the book itself will not be released until next month.
He recalls in the book how White House aides excluded Holbrooke from videoconferences that President Obama had with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and how Holbrooke was even left behind on a presidential trip to Kabul.
Administration officials even managed to scuttle Clinton’s choice of John Podesta, her husband’s former chief of staff, to replace Holbooke following his death in 2010.
Podesta was considered to be too difficult for the White House to manage, the Times reports.
Nasr believes that the president’s policies in Afghanistan effectively undermine the ability of the U.S. to pursue negotiations with the Taliban.
Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, Nasr acknowledged that he held off publishing his book until after the November presidential election was decided.
“I did not want it to be a political book,” he said.
He accused the administration of trying to play it safe in Afghanistan
“The precepts were how to make the conduct of this war politically safe for the administration rather than to solve the problem in a way that would protect America’s long-run national security interests,” he said.
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