Obama's Foreign Policy

Be it resolved, Obama’s foreign policy is emboldening our enemies and making the world a more dangerous place…

November 5, 2014

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From Ukraine to the Middle East to China, the United States is redefining its role in international affairs. Alliance building, public diplomacy, and eschewing traditional warfare in favour of the focused use of hard power such as drones and special forces are all hallmarks of the so-called Obama Doctrine. Is this a farsighted foreign policy for the United States and the world in the 21st century – one that acknowledges and embraces the increasing diffusion of power among states and non-state actors? Or, is an America “leading from behind” a boon for the nations and blocs who want to roll back economic globalization, international law, and the spread of democracy and human rights? To engage this global debate, our fall 2014 contest will move the motion:

Be it resolved Obama’s foreign policy is emboldening our enemies and making the world a more dangerous place…

The Results

Pre-Debate

43%

Pro

57%

Con

Post-Debate

32%

Pro

68%

Con

Con wins with 11% vote gain.

The Debaters

Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens

Pro

"And now it’s not even in dispute that this president’s foreign policy is a total failure…time and again, the president is caught flat-footed by events."

Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens

Pro

"And now it’s not even in dispute that this president’s foreign policy is a total failure…time and again, the president is caught flat-footed by events."

Bret Stephens was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary for "his incisive columns on American foreign policy and domestic politics, often enlivened by a contrarian twist." Mr. Stephens is the deputy editorial page editor responsible for the international opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal. He also writes "Global View," the paper’s weekly foreign-affairs column, and is a member of the Journal’s editorial board. He is a regular panelist on The Journal Editorial Report, a weekly political talk show broadcast on Fox News Channel.

Mr. Stephens joined the Journal in 1998 as an op-ed editor and moved to Brussels the following year, where he wrote editorials and edited a column on the European Union. He left Dow Jones in January 2002 to take the helm of The Jerusalem Post, the youngest ever editor in chief at the paper. He oversaw the paper's most extensive redesign in its then 70-year history and also wrote a weekly column. Mr. Stephens returned to the Journal in late 2004. In January 2005, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

He has won numerous journalism awards, including the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Mr. Stephens was born in New York and raised in Mexico City. He has an undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Chicago, and a Master's from the London School of Economics. He lives in New York City with his wife Corinna, a music critic, and their three children.

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Robert Kagan

Robert Kagan

Pro

"Superpowers don’t get to retire….in the international sphere, Americans have had to act as judge, jury, police, and, in the case of military action, executioner."

Robert Kagan

Robert Kagan

Pro

Superpowers don’t get to retire….in the international sphere, Americans have had to act as judge, jury, police, and, in the case of military action, executioner.

Robert Kagan was named 4th of 50 Most Powerful Republicans On Foreign Policy by Foreign Policy magazine, ‘America’s most prominent neoconservative writer…rare public intellectual simultaneously in vogue with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.’

He is a Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy at the Center for United States and Europe, Brookings Institution and Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He was named to serve on the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Turkey. Foreign Policy and Prospectmagazines also listed Dr. as one of the world’s “Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” and he was named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012.

Kagan served in the United States State Department as a deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, and was a member of the policy planning staff as principal speechwriter to the U.S. secretary of state.

Robert Kagan is an invaluable voice for audiences that seek to understand the dynamics that are shaping 21st century geopolitics and American foreign and domestic policy. He consistently offers valuable historical context and fresh, often startling, and indispensable insights into the issues that businesses, industries and nations face today. Robert founded The Working Group on Egypt, a group of policy experts aimed at ensuring Egypt’s elections are free and fair.

Robert is the author of several bestsellers on foreign policy, including Dangerous Nation, which won the 2008 Lepgold Prize and was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize. His newest book, The World America Made, paints a picture of what the world would look like if America reduced its role as a global leader.

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Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Con

"The need to rebuild at home means ending the wars we have been in and keeping our troops out of new ones."

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Con

The need to rebuild at home means ending the wars we have been in and keeping our troops out of new ones.

Named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers four years in a row, Anne-Marie Slaughter turns big ideas and deep analysis into realistic strategies for a networked world. A Princeton University foreign policy professor emerita, the President of the New America Foundation, and a former top official at the U.S. State Department, Dr. Slaughter confronts a range of topics — from geopolitics and global challenges to gender equality and leadership — with a unique and powerful voice.

As President and CEO of the New America Foundation, a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy institute and idea incubator based out of Washington, DC and NYC, Slaughter leads a team of scientists, technologists, and political and economic thinkers to innovate in such areas as national security, healthcare, technology policy, and education.

From 2009-2011, Slaughter headed the U.S. State Department’s internal think tank and advised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As the Director of Policy Planning, the first female in the role, she oversaw a major review of America’s diplomatic and development priorities. For her efforts, she received the Department’s highest honor, the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award.

A contributing editor for The Atlantic, Slaughter became one of North America’s most talked about writers with “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” an in-depth and controversial look into the extreme work-life balance of today’s professional women. It is the most read article in The Atlantic's history.

At Princeton, Slaughter was the Bert G. Kerstetter Professor of Politics and International Affairs. The first female Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, she rebuilt the school's international relations faculty and programs.

The author and editor of six books, including A New World Order and The Idea that is America, Slaughter has published over 100 scholarly articles in international law and relations. Her next book, tentatively tilted Real Equality, is scheduled for a Spring 2015 release.

Slaughter received her doctorate in International Relations from Oxford and her law degree from Harvard before teaching at University of Chicago and Harvard Law Schools. She is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, a consultant for Google, and on the board of Abt Associates.

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Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Con

"President Obama has not made a major mistake. He has done a skillful job steering the United States out of the muddy waters he inherited…and resisted plunging the country into another major conflict"

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Con

President Obama has not made a major mistake. He has done a skillful job steering the United States out of the muddy waters he inherited…and resisted plunging the country into another major conflict

Fareed Zakaria has been called “the most influential foreign policy advisor of his generation” and was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010.

Zakaria is the host of CNN’s flagship international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, which features interviews and panel discussions with heads of state, intellectuals and business leaders and has been broadcast to more than 300 million homes around the world. He is also a Washington Post columnist, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author.

Zakaria served as editor-at-large for TIME magazine from 2010 to 2014, prior to which he oversaw all of Newsweek’s foreign editions. His columns have received many awards over the years, including a National Magazine Award in 2010. His 2001 Newsweek cover story, “Why They Hate Us” remains his most well-known and lauded.

As a book author, Zakaria has received plenty of acclaim. The New York Times Book Review called his 2008 book The Post American World, which was a New York Times bestseller, “relentlessly intelligent” and The Economist called it “a powerful guide” to facing global challenges. The Future of Freedom, published in 2003, was also a New York Times bestseller and was translated into 25 languages. His most recent book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, was published in 2015 and praised by the New York Times as “an accessible, necessary defense of an idea under siege.”

Zakaria was born in India, received a bachelor of arts from Yale College and a Ph. D. from Harvard University. He has received honourary degrees from numerous universities, including Johns Hopkins, Brown, the University of Miami and Oberlin College. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

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