Barack Obama: Foreign policy realist?

Harvard professor, Stephen M Walt says Barack Obama isn’t weak and waffling — he’s calculating, coldhearted, and decisive when it counts:

….One can even see elements of this approach in Obama’s handling of China. He has repeatedly emphasized Asia’s importance to the United States, and the much-publicized “rebalancing” was obviously intended to signal to America’s Asian partners that it wasn’t abandoning the region. Obama reinforced these themes during his visit to Asia in April, but the administration has implemented this policy at a measured pace, content to let China’s growing assertiveness do the work for us. Overreacting would alarm the local powers and let them continue to free-ride, while speaking softly makes present and future allies more eager for help and more willing to do what America wants to get it.

The common thread to these various responses is an appreciation not just of the limits of U.S. power, but also of the limited need to exercise it. “Limited” does not mean zero, which is why sensible people oppose a return to 19th-century-style isolationism. But this approach recognizes that the overwhelming majority of problems in the world do not threaten the United States directly and therefore do not require an immediate, forceful, and potentially costly U.S. response.

As Andrew Sullivan likes to say, Obama’s greatest political genius has been his Road Runner-like ability to let enemies beat themselves.

Read more at Is Barack Obama More of a Realist Than I Am?.