NYT: Obama Missed Opportunity to Define Foreign Policy Vision

Thursday, 29 May 2014 01:59 PM

By Melanie Batley

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President Barack Obama's commencement speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point was billed by the White House as a major foreign policy address, but the speech ultimately fell disappointingly short of expectations, The New York Times says.

"The address did not match the hype, was largely uninspiring, lacked strategic sweep and is unlikely to quiet his detractors, on the right or the left," the newspaper said in an editorial Thursday.

"He provided little new insight into how he plans to lead in the next two years, and many still doubt that he fully appreciates the leverage the United States has even in a changing world. Falling back on hackneyed phrases like America is the 'indispensable nation' told us little."

The newspaper added that the president's suggestions about how America might indirectly combat terrorism in Africa were vague and incomplete, and "it was also disturbing to hear him gloss over the return of military rule in Egypt."

The Times also said his comments on the need for more transparency on drone strikes and surveillance practices was "ludicrous" and there was almost no mention about how the United States plans to manage China and Russia, which have become a growing threat.

The paper acknowledged, however, that there were a number of strengths to the speech. For example, it noted that Obama made a strong case on the use of force, and also endorsed action when the security of America or its allies is in danger.

He was also right, the paper said, to reframe concerns about America's position in the world by saying the issue was "not whether America will lead but how we will lead."

Overall, the Times concluded that while it was a key opportunity that was missed, his record in the final years of office will be the ultimate test of his foreign policy legacy.

"This was far from Mr. Obama's big moment. But since he has no office left to run for, what matters ultimately is his record in the next two and a half years," the paper concluded.

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