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K of the Castle

December 12, 2014

November 26, 2014

The Times Literary Supplement
By: Niall Ferguson, Resident Faculty, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies

Thirteen years ago, just three months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Henry Kissinger published a book with the provocative title Does America Need a Foreign Policy? His new book, World Order, might justly have been subtitled: “Does America have a foreign policy?” It is no longer controversial (as it once was) to point out that President Barack Obama is no master strategist. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just eight months after his inauguration as President, he has been responsible for a succession of foreign policy debacles, including the “reset” of relations with Russia and the “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia. Then there is the woeful incoherence of his administration’s policy towards Egypt, lending support first to a revolution against its ally Hosni Mubarak, then to a Muslim Brotherhood government, and finally to the bloody military coup that overthrew that government. Consider, too, the President’s abject failure to enforce his own “red line” over the use of chemical weapons in Syria, justified with the declaration in September last year: “America is not the world’s policeman”. Or reflect on the hubris of his breathtaking statement in an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick last January: “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now”. Nemesis struck just two months later, in the form of the Russian annexation of Crimea. ...

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