Tags: Barack Obama | foreign policy | Russia | Iraq

2015 Forecast as 'Turbulent Year' for Obama Foreign Policy

By    |   Wednesday, 31 December 2014 11:48 AM

In 2014 foreign policy emerged as a dominant issue with the terms "ISIS," "Boko Haram" and "Ebola" entering into the common vernacular and Russian aggression toward its neighbors reigniting the Cold War. As 2014 comes to a close, 2015 is likely to present as many, if not more, challenges to the U.S. and the leadership of President Barack Obama.

"From the vantage point of the White House, 2015 is shaping up as a turbulent year. Several of the conflicts that erupted in 2014 will continue into 2015: the separatist movement in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem, to name the most obvious," says James M. Lindsay, a senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a recent interview.

In addition to the known threats, Lindsay says that events in the South China Sea, North Korea, and India and Pakistan could also emerge as flashpoints in the coming year.

While the U.S. and NATO officially closed down the operational command in Afghanistan, symbolically ending the 13-year war, threats from Taliban forces remain. In fact, the last year has witnessed some of the most intense battles since the start of the war, notes The Wall Street Journal.

And the forecast is not particularly bright in Afghanistan.

"I hope I’m wrong, but I fear 2015 will be a lot bloodier," one Afghan official told the Journal.

"Presidents propose action, and then reality intervenes. This cycle holds special irony in the case of President Obama. A year ago, it looked like he might end two of the longest wars in U.S. history by the time he left office. As of today, President Obama has involved the United States in five evolving conflicts, and there is little prospect any of them will be over by the time the next president is inaugurated, unless the United States chooses to disengage and lose," wrote Center for Strategic and International Studies scholar Anthony Cordesman recently, according to Politico.

According to the Preventive Priorities Survey 2015, which was conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations' Center for Preventive Action, foreign policy experts cited Iraq as the conflict that holds the highest probability of worsening in 2015 with an armed confrontation in the South China Sea also topping its list of concerns.

The experts also viewed the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and an intensification of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, as issues that will continue to pose problems in 2015.

The Obama administration's lack of a clear foreign policy strategy is said to contribute to the volatility of the global environment because it reacts to day-to-day events as they emerge.

"There’s a sense that there hasn’t been a clear strategy and the White House has been buffeted by events. That they make decisions over whatever the political pressures are felt most strongly at any given time, rather than out of a consistent approach to foreign policy that transcends the day-to-day crisis," Rosa Brooks, a former Obama administration official, told The Washington Post recently.

The absence of a clear foreign policy vision with regard to Russian aggression against Ukraine could ensure that the crisis becomes the new normal, says the Wilson Center's Matthew Rojansky.

"That’s what the administration is gambling on, not on regime change per se, but putting his back against the wall, giving him no good options, just sort of taking the steam out of Putin," Rojansky told Politico. "It’s a high-risk strategy. Cornered authoritarian leaders often end up behaving like cornered wild animals."

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As 2014 comes to a close, 2015 is likely to present as many, if not more, challenges to the U.S. and the leadership of President Barack Obama.
foreign policy, Russia, Iraq
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 11:48 AM
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