Briefing Paper

Briefing Paper 185 (2015)   

Obama's Foreign Policy:
A long game harried by tactical politics

Publicerad 26.10.2015

Charly Salonius-Pasternak
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has focused on achieving strategic aims, but it has been bedevilled by inconsistent implementation and harried by tactical politics. As a president, Obama has addressed and delivered successes in the five central goals he outlined as a candidate in 2008.

The strongest criticism against changes in US foreign policy under the two Obama administrations has come from those who benefitted from the status quo. This is particularly true in the Middle East, where despite strong pressure President Obama has thus far avoided entangling the United States in new large-scale wars.

While Europe was treated largely with disinterest during the first Obama administration, Russia’s actions have served as a reminder that the US has deep security commitments in Europe which every president must uphold.Moreover, Obama’s emphasis on the need for an economic alliance in the form of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a reminder that the transatlantic relationship is viewed as central in the 21st century.