One writer that is struggling to understand is Michael Cohen. Where he stumbles a bit is that he limits himself by trying to fit President Obama into the framework of an either/or split between a "realist or internationalist."
For five years, President Obama has often struggled in finding the right mix between leading from behind and leaning in.Too many people can't grasp the both/and of a President who, for five years aggressively went after al Qaeda AND wants to work in partnership with the rest of the world to deal with the global challenges we face with Syria, Iran and Russia.
Yesterday, however, in calling for the US and Europe to uphold the instrumentals of global peace and security, while eschewing provocative steps or inflammatory rhetoric, Obama came pretty close to finding that foreign policy sweet spot.
One person who demonstrates that he understands what President Obama means by a 21st century foreign policy is Fareed Zakaria. He opens his argument with data supporting the President's claim that working together via partnership has produced gains that were previously impossible in an era of domination (I'll let you go read the specifics). Here's how he summarizes:
Many aspects of international life remain nasty and brutish, and it is easy to sound tough and suggest that you understand the hard realities of power politics. But the most astonishing, remarkable reality about the world is how much things have changed, especially since 1945...As we watch various politicians and pundits respond to the Obama Doctrine, we will increasingly see those who understand the "evolving international order" clash with those in our own country who continue to live in a fantasy world. It is important that we understand that clash and are able to articulate what is at stake.
There is an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare. We should strengthen, not ridicule, it. Yes, some places stand in opposition to this trend — North Korea, Syria, Russia. The people running these countries believe that they are charting a path to greatness and glory. But they are the ones living in a fantasy world.