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  • The Decline and Fall of Obama's Foreign Policy Czars

    Whatever became of President Barack Obama’s vaunted foreign policy czars, who were to transform America’s international relations through soft power diplomacy? The answer is nothing good. One by one the czars have fallen by the wayside, leaving a trail of bureaucratic irritation and diplomatic failure behind them. The Administration now at least tacitly acknowledges that the whole operation was a mistake.

    Last week’s resignation of Stephen Bosworth as special representative for North Korea marks a milestone in the czars’ decline and fall. In the words of Foreign Policy magazine’s blog, The Cable, Bosworth was “the last of the Obama administration’s original team of special envoys. All are now gone: their missions unfinished, replaced by lower-profile officials.”

    Republicans, especially on Capitol Hill, will shed no tears for the czars’ demise. Obama’s appointment of the original team of special representatives was widely seen as a way of empowering hand-picked senior officials to instigate a “transformational” foreign policy without subjecting them to congressional confirmation. A major aim appeared to be to demonstrate Obama’s new focus on American humility and diplomatic engagement, in contrast to the supposedly “hard power” emphasis of the Administration of George W. Bush. Many in Washington also suspected that Obama, fresh from a bruising primary contest with presidential rival Hillary Clinton, was seeking to dilute her prestige and authority as his new Secretary of State.

    The czar brigade’s leading lights were men like Richard Holbrooke, special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, George Mitchell for Israel and Palestine, Dennis Ross for Iran, Scott Gration for Sudan, and Bosworth for North Korea. Ross soon left his State Department post and was reassigned to the White House as a senior assistant for more general Middle East affairs—perhaps a wise move given the abject failure of Obama’s efforts to “engage” Iran. Holbrooke died suddenly in December 2010, without having engineered much progress in Washington’s “Afpak” policies and with a history of constantly falling afoul of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and top U.S. military and diplomatic leaders. George Mitchell resigned in May 2011 after a long period in which he had been virtually invisible—through the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” and the formation of a supposed unity government by the Palestinians. Never really in charge of U.S. Middle East policy, Mitchell had no hope of getting anywhere, as Obama and Clinton either neglected the region or made their own spectacular policy mistakes.

    It was not easy to understand how Obama thought that throwing three huge egos—Holbrooke, Ross, and Mitchell—into roughly the same, or at least adjacent, pots would somehow result in a harmonious outcome. As another Foreign Policy commentator put it, “the president’s decision to appoint so many czars was a classic rookie mistake that has not really worked out very well for anyone.”

    Gration, according to The Cable, “presided over the birth of the nation of South Sudan before being appointed ambassador to Kenya, but he faced criticism for his handling of U.S. policy on Sudan and constantly butted heads with other figures in the administration, notably U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. He is now replaced by the quiet yet well-respected Princeton Lyman.”

    Bosworth, who is dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and has only been working part-time on North Korea, is replaced by career diplomat Glyn Davies, who is not a North Korean specialist. The State Department said, “This is a change in personnel, not a change in policy”—without mentioning that the policy has achieved no significant success. Davies’s main role is seen as keeping things quiet on the North Korean front in the period leading up to next year’s U.S. elections.

    That is perhaps symbolic of the Administration’s change of approach to the role of special representations in general. Now that none of them has achieved the diplomatic breakthroughs so naively expected by the newly elected Obama, ambitions have been reduced to not making things any worse—and even that may be difficult.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to The Decline and Fall of Obama's Foreign Policy Czars

    1. Coleman says:

      Well this just us more evidence of the kind of failure of big egos of the kind Ayn Rand spoke of in many of her writings, constant appeasement to groups and governments that are an d have a history of hostility towards us is not the type to be showing a soft hand to and they know Obama is weak and this type of diplomacy winds up costing more.
      He has turned us into a doormat to allow any theocrat or tinpot autocrat to walk over,just look at lybia I realize that Ghaddafi was no angel but now this council that took over is rapidly instituting sharia and not any form of democracy are the people of lybia going to be any freer no! They will becom like Iran.

    2. Bobbie says:

      I wouldn't call it a "rookie" mistake. Obama is attempting to destroy this country financially anyway he sees fit!
      If it costs something, he'll triple it! He ain't no cheapskate when it comes to someone elses dollar!
      …all humor aside, America is under siege…

    3. David Cowan says:

      The Fall of the Czar, now to storm the Winter Palace!

    4. devildog6771 says:

      Why is there no mention of Bill Ayers and his wife, and Trumpka's representative who all went to the Middle East before it all blew up in everyone's face. also don't see anything about the computer geek in the administration who went to South America to talk to a revolutionary who used social media to build an army of supporters. Nor did you mention how the administration brought people from the Middle East to the US to teach them how to use social media and community activism to bring about the domino of unrest that occurred in the Middle East, culminating in the Arab Spring. There is also no mention of the Boat named after Obama's book that is going to or went to the Middle East when the alliance was formed between the Union International, Trumpka's aide, Ayers and his wife, and the Islamic revolutionaries. The whole thing is part of an international "revolutionary" movement. Glenn Beck has a complete breakdown of everything. He also has videos and supporting information.

      We need to stop giving this President and his administration a pass on responsibility for his actions and efforts as part of this effort at home and abroad. It is time for the truth to be repeated over and over until the public is finally aware of the truth! Our Republic's survival depends on it. The survival of Israel also is crucial. The US and Israel are the last bastion of freedom left. Or will we waut until we look like England?!

      • A Conservative Woman says:

        Well said devildog! Glenn Beck has predicted so much that is coming to fruition now. Israel may be our only ally period, when all is said and done. That is why we must stand with them. We CANNOT wait!

    5. Alozarkman says:

      Loose lips sink ships…BO's are running 24/7…running down the US that is. We need a president who is proud of what this nation has accomplished and does not tout leading from behind. What a crock that is.

    6. walter says:

      Obama is just a failed leader. He is anti american and his CZars are also.we can not expest any thing good to come out of his office. He has not fix anything and everything is worst then three years back. Congress need to impeach him and his CZars. If they do not. We will on election day.

    7. Bill S. says:

      Get rid of all of them.. They are Leftists of the worst kind. How much do we tax payers save with the deletion of their salaries, office statt, expenses, etc? Does anyone know this information?

    8. Bill S. says:

      What happened to Free Speech? Politifcal correctness has contributed to the demise of this once great country…please don't contribute more to that effort! Let people say what they feel…you may learn more!

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