Home / Robert Farley / The Second Term FP Team

The Second Term FP Team


The President is never entirely free to choose his foreign policy team, but Obama has a great deal of latitude for the second term:

The upshot is that the Obama administration begins its second term with much greater foreign policy freedom of action, whether in domestic, strategic, or bureaucratic terms. If Obama wants to follow through on the “pivot” to Asia, he should have the freedom to do so. The first year of the second term should demonstrate how seriously Obama intends to pursue a redistribution of military and diplomatic effort towards Asia. An early indicator will be who the president taps to replace Petraeus at CIA, as well as how the administration handles sequestration. For those either anticipating or dreading a larger U.S. commitment to Asia, uncertainty shouldn’t last long.

One way of interpreting the attention paid to the Benghazi imbroglio is as an effort to cripple the second term team.

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  • It might be nice if the “pivot” to Asia ended the US government’s unconditional support of Israel. Now that he has won reelection Obama has an opportunity to do the right thing and oppose the current Israeli attack on Gaza. Instead he has supported it. He has the opportunity to support nonmember statehood for Palestine in the UN which will allow them to bring cases in front of the ICC. He has instead attempted to browbeat Abbas into delaying the application. On the issue of Palestine there is no difference between the “liberal” Obama and the “right-wing” Romney. LGM has not issued a word on the subject since Israel began its latest assault on the children of Gaza. If it was Romney rather than Obama supporting the Israeli attack I think things might be different.

    • Malaclypse

      LGM has not issued a word on the subject since Israel began its latest assault on the children of Gaza.


      • Okay I missed the two line link buried amongst a bunch of other links. I have astigmatism and myopia. But, if you are going to put stuff in small print do not be surprised if people with glasses don’t see it. It still is not very much and since it was part of a much larger post devoted to mostly other things I am sure I am not the only person who missed it.

        • Manta

          True: LGM did not wrote many words about the conflict.

          There are many other interesting and valid topics about which the LGM people do not write: luckily, there are many other sites we can read, besides this one.

          See for instance
          if you want a political opinion from a left point of view on the conflict.

          • I’m generally (although not categorically) reluctant to write much about Israeli-Palestinian affairs, mostly because my own knowledge on the specifics pales in comparison to the real specialists. In this particular case, reluctance is abetted not by some desire to protect Obama, but rather from the fact that I’m quite too busy to delve into the details, even on the elements of the conflict that strike my interest (use of airpower, prospects for Iron Dome, etc.) if we continue to see escalation, then I’ll probably write something about he strategic and operational aspects.

            But then the broader point is that LGM isn’t the Washington Post; we don’t have to cover every event, although obviously you’d expect us to cover some events because of our specialization.

            • The Dark Avenger

              I have myopia and astigmatism, and I had no trouble seeing the link, J. Otto.

              Protip: Perhaps you should wear your glasses when browsing the web, and get your eyes examined every year as well.

            • Ed

              we don’t have to cover every event,

              No one ever said LGM had to do so, but this isn’t just any “event,” nor have I observed the same continence in regard to other areas in which posters might be considered less than expert. Certainly you’re free to write on what what you wish. The silence is, nonetheless, deafening.

          • The Guardian is a British paper. The US liberal left which includes Obama and people like Pelosi has unconditionally supported Israel since 1948.

        • I have astigmatism and myopia.

          In both a literal and metaphorical sense.

    • Instead he has supported it.

      citation omitted

      • somethingblue

        I do not speak for J. Otto Pohl, but he may have been thinking of this.

        • That’s the JTA’s spin on the talks. Here is a much more objective piece from the Hindu.

  • Manta

    LGM (more precisely, Erik) did say something on the subject.


    • Malaclypse

      That’s what I get for replying before reading down…

  • Oh, yeah, the second term foreign policy team.

    What Farley says about Obama’s success in his first term giving him more freedom of action, and not having to play “defensive politics,” applies not just to his second term, but more generally to Democratic Presidents going forward. George Bush started the job of demolishing the Republicans’ half-century political dominance in that area, and Obama is finishing it.

    People who turned 18 after 2008 are going to have to be taught that it ever existed. They’re going to look at such obnoxious silliness as the mockery of Al Gore and John Kerry’s service records and have no context with which to understand why anyone paid the slightest attention.

    • mark f

      This is, I hope, true. One problem with opposing Kerry at DoD on the sensible grounds that it risks a senate seat is that it seems possible, maybe even likely, that it might otherwise go to Chuck Hagel or Dick Lugar. I didn’t mind keeping Gates around on continuity grounds, but I’d rather not return to the “even Democrats admit Defense is a Republican issue” days.

      • fyi

        Gates was replaced by Panetta last July.

        • mark f

          I know.

          • FWIW, I know you know.

            I didn’t mind keeping Gates around on continuity grounds, but I’d rather not return to the “even Democrats admit Defense is a Republican issue” days.

            • mark f

              Yeah, I’m not sure what FYI is getting at. I assume if a potential new appointment is being floated then either Panetta or Obama thinks it’s time for Panetta to step down. And whether the next secretary is Kerry or someone else, I don’t think Panetta’s tenure is enough to solidify the Democrats’ superiority if Obama selects a Republican.

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