The contemporary global security appears to be far more threatened than one at the time of President Obama took charge of the U.S. in 2009. The Islamic State, also referred as ISIS and IS, has made inroads into a vast track of land in the Middle East. Iraq or Afghanistan is not more stable and peaceful notwithstanding the start of the process of U.S. troops’ withdrawal. War is going on in the eastern Ukraine. Conflicts and clashes of interests have increased among major Asian players. Problems and degradation related to environment have increased, and Ebola has been threatening to assume pandemic proportions.
Some political analysts hold Obama administration responsible, at least partially, for the gory state of global affairs. It is widely believed that Obama administration failed to complete the programmes initiated by the former incumbent of U.S. Presidency, George W. Bush with respect to U.S. military responses to the global security challenges. Also, it was not successful in taking far enough in giving the U.S. foreign policy completely a new direction like one who has been awarded Nobel Prize for Peace. On the other hand, the believers in the Obama camp laud and list the Obama administration’s accomplishments that include opening to Myanmar, truce with Cuba, continuing negotiations with Iran, and his efforts to shift from hyper-militarism in the aftermath of 9/11 to cooperative diplomacy in commensurate with the contemporary global situations.
This debate is not of merely academic interests. In the run up to the 2016 elections, Obama’s performance on national security could be the focus of debate. Republicans will get an opportunity to criticize Obama on his failure to stand up to Putin, Khamenei, Assad, Xi, and his coddling of Castro and leadership of Myanmar. Hilary Clinton, the leading Democratic Party candidate, has already dissociated herself with Obama administration’s records, and has emphasized more muscular and neo-conservative outlook for her foreign policy.
In the wake of this debate on the record of Obama administration, came the 2015 National Security Strategy, the second of his tenure. The document strives to present a position in between, what the document refers, unrivalled military action and sustainable security posture of the world. It tries to camouflage apparent failures, and highlights accomplishments. The document conveniently glossed over such matters as reversal with Russia, the petering out of the new beginning with Muslim world, breakdown of Palestine-Israel peace process, and progress towards a nuclear free world.
The document declares in the beginning the U.S. being stronger and better placed to exploit the opportunities thrown open by the new century. It adds that the country is better positioned to safeguard national interests globally. Obama’s approach relating to controversial and difficult issues has been to tread on the middle path. Inline with it, the document stresses on a rule based international order, increase in military spending, rely on diplomacy, and focus on Asia while maintaining close look on Africa and Middle East. The part of document discussing military force shows U.S. ambivalence in taking tuff stand militarily. Practically every mention of military has been prefixed or suffixed with diplomacy and rapprochement.
The present National Security Strategy has failed to silence critics of the Obama administration and pave the way for a Democratic successor in the White House in the year 2016. However, it is indicative of what Obama is likely to accomplish during the last two years of his tenure as the U.S. President.