For this post I have decided to grade key foreign policy aspects of President Obama's presidency. Grades are shown below. (Guide to grades: A-Great Performance, B-Average Performance, C-Below Average Performance, D-Dreadful Performance, F-Failure)
Secretary of State: Grade: A.
The choice of Hillary Clinton is the key to the President's foreign policy. Having had little experience in foreign affairs, choosing a woman with vast international experience from her time as first lady and her work afterwards was a great move. She does not seem to back down on America's interest or apologize for America. The same cannot be said for the President however. But, his choice of Secretary of State was a brilliant move and she has proven a capable diplomat.
Israel: Grade: C-.
The President has not made Israel a top priority in his foreign policy agenda. Typically, Israel is a key ally and powerhouse of the U.S. Middle East foreign policy. Under this administration, the Israel-Palestine peace process has gone virtually no where and no large summits have been held on the issue. Granted, most summits are unsuccessful, but they show a willingness to try. The President needs to improve his support of Israel to ensure a strong U.S. foreign policy in the volatile region.
Venezuela: Grade: C
The President's recent remarks about Chavez have left many questioning how serious he takes the Venezuelan President Chavez. Chavez is a very important part of South American policy and his leftist views have influenced several other nations in South America. Furthermore, his strong support of Iran and the country's large fuel reserves make Chavez a force to be reckoned with. His influence in the region should be countered by a strong U.S. presence in the region to promote stability, transparent democracy, and free trade in the region.
North Korea: Grade: B-
The changing of the ruler in North Korea provided an opening for the U.S. to assert its willingness to help the North Korean people to prosper. More should have been done to take advantage of this rare change in power in North Korea. Furthermore, tensions with South Korea including the sinking of a South Korean ship and shelling of an island killing South Koreans should have been met with a more forceful condemnation by the administration. However, this situation could have gotten out of hand very quickly and led to larger skirmishes and complications for U.S. pacific interests. A larger military conflict was averted and the tensions were defused with minimal loss of life. This must be commended. But, ultimately, the failure to act with a new leader in Korea should be seen as a mistake.
Iran/Syria: Grade: C-
The President has allowed Russia and China to stall most efforts by the U.S. to counter Iran's growing nuclear power. Furthermore, the influence of Iran in the Syria crisis and the failure of international bodies to act as innocent children and families are killed and ruined is a tragic failure. The President has not been effective in dealing with China or Russia in his foreign policy in relations to Iran and Syria. It should be made clear that old alliances and arms deals will not be tolerated with leaders who commit great acts of violence against their people. In addition, Iran must not be allowed to gain nuclear weapons with their current threats against Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
E.U.: Grade: C+
While remaining quite popular among the leaders of Europe, the President has done this at the cost of U.S. exceptionalism. Europe has long been a strong economic and diplomatic partner with the U.S. However, under the current administration, it seems that America is being brought to be equal to Europe, when it should be left as the prime country in the world. All countries should strive to first serve their own people before those in other countries. The President should remember that America is a great country and should always strive to keep our nation ahead of others.
Overall: Grade: C
The President has done a substandard job in representing the interests of the U.S. abroad. In a push for equality, he has sacrificed diplomatic power that has been built up over the last century. America is a great nation and its interests should be vigorously defended at home and abroad.