As a student of foreign policy, I must state that this is one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read. There is enough information here to easily fill a multi-semester graduate level college class. And the timeliness of it is extraordinary, current up to late 2014. And it is written in easily understood language and style.
The author sets out to explain, in a mostly non-partisan manner, the ideas behind the strategy that President Obama follows in making foreign policy decisions. I will quote the author’s own words to explain: “At the end of the day, Obama’s highest priorities are domestic, and that this have had a powerful effect on his foreign policy choices…..He has said, in his own words, that he looks to “transform this nation”, “end wars”, and focus on “nation-building right here at home””. The author states: “the purpose of Obama’s grand strategy has been to retrench America’s strategic presence overseas without undue risk to basic U.S. interests, and to encourage new patterns of international cooperation through diplomatic accommodations”. After discussing the pro’s and con’s of this strategy, Dueck concludes that Obama’s strategy has not worked as planned. The author suggests that this is because of incorrect assumptions made, a reticence to come to decisions, and an inability to “impose a serious coherence on specific…U.S. policies”.
The author believes that Obama decided early on that the main focus of his presidency would be on domestic issues, and that he would try to not jeopardize this focus with controversial foreign policy issues.
Dueck spends the latter part of his book on “Republican Alternatives to the Obama Doctrine”. I don’t know why he decided to single out the Republican’s, his points could easily be adopted by and crafted to either political party. He lists suggestions on how foreign policy could be better crafted. He places emphasis on a more coherent and consistent strategy, so foreign actors would be better able to predict how we will respond to issues.
I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the upcoming presidential election. You will not be disappointed.
I received this book as an early reviewer for NetGalley, in exchange for a fair review. The fair review was easy, as the book was so great! Anyone who follows my reviews knows that a “5 star” rating is a rare occurrence for me. I have no hesitance in giving Dueck's book 5 stars!