Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

Gideon Rachman

Image via brookings.edu When Barack Obama entered office four years ago, many of the inmates of the Brookings Institution – Washington’s most venerable think-tank – moved across town to work for the new administration.

On the foreign policy side, the ex-Brookings people who joined Obama included Ivo Daalder (ambassador to Nato), Philip Gordon (assistant secretary of state for Europe), Jim Steinberg (deputy secretary of state, via the University of Texas) Jeff Bader (head of Asia at the NSC) and Jeremy Shapiro (policy planning at the State Department).

So a Brookings study of the Obama administration’s foreign policy is – to some extent – an inside job. The three Brookings-based authors of “Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy” know their subject intimately. This has both merits and problems. On the plus side, Bending History is easily the most comprehensive and balanced study to date of Obama’s record as a foreign-policy president. On the minus side, the authors (Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal and Michael O’Hanlon) have a slight tendency to pull their punches. Still, given that so much political debate in Washington is now partisan shrieking, an excess of civility is a pardonable sin. Read more

John Paul Rathbone

Should Argentina, with its cavalier approach to economic policy, still have a place in the G20?

The debate is starting to generate heat, if not yet light. On May 11, Richard Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the US Senate foreign relations committee, introduced a non-binding “sense of Congress” resolution that calls on the US to suspend Argentina given its “outlaw behaviour”. This behaviour includes, most recently, Buenos Aires’ nationalisation of Spanish oil company Repsol’s stake in YPF, manipulation of inflation statistics, refusal to submit to an IMF review, and failure to comply with dozens of World Bank international settlement disputes. Read more