- Posted June 5, 2014 by
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CNN iReporter: How would you evaluate President Obama’s commencement presentation at West Point particularly regarding foreign policy?
John Ubaldi: I would assess President Obama’s speech, the commencement address at West Point as a lack of vision. He did not articulate where he wanted to take US foreign policy in these remaining two years. Pundits from both sides of the political aisle were hard pressed to find what is the Obama Doctrine especially since he is entering the sixth year of his presidency. Now the Republicans came in and responded often very critical of this address, but they still are lacking a strategic concept where they want to take the country in relationship where the president wants to go. Too often everybody both sides are looking at things from a tactical view point. Neither party takes a strategic vision of where they are going to take the country and how they want the US to lead in International foreign policy.
CNN iReporter: Well what was missing in that address?
John Ubaldi: What was missing on the address is that President never articulated where he wanted to take the country in the next two years. He mentioned Ukraine, he mentioned Syria but he gave broad reference and he left out some key points. He never mentioned the pivot to Asia which is very crucial to the allies in the region, and one he articulated a year or two ago. He never mentioned the Middle East as it relates to the Arabic Spring, which continues to this day. Republicans especially John McCain, who was the challenger to the president 2008, have criticized the President for lack of leadership. But Republicans still never articulate what they would do differently than the president. You can only criticize for so long, but you have to give your strategic concept where you want to take the country and then be able to take that, strategic concept articulate that to the American public.
CNN iReporter: Why isn’t that happening? What is the impeding problematic condition that makes this a continuous round circle?
John Ubaldi: The reason why it makes a continuous round circle is that both political parties whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, look at appeasing the base of their party. Both parties are not looking at what is best for the United States. It seems both Democrats and Republicans always look’s what’s best for their party and not what is best for the country. During this address the president was laying out his vision, but it was more appealing to the base of the Democratic party.
CNN iReporter: I see. Then the president used the words like partner, partnership. How does this outline a countries addiction with foreign policy?
John Ubaldi: The partnership and cooperation, theses terms are spoken in broad terms, but what do these terms mean as it applies to a strategic vision or a foreign policy doctrine. What do you mean partnership? How do you partnership up with NATO, the European Union, the IMF and other treaty alliances that United States has. The president mentioned these concepts but did not mention how it would fit into his vision of strategic vision and how does this work in his pivot to Asia. How would this work with NATO, when NATO has only been successful when the United States led from the front. The President launched military operations in Libya, working with NATO. NATO does not have the military capacity that is equal to the United States. 80% of the military sorties or air combat operations during that campaign were done by the United States.
Since the end of the Cold War NATO has been hard pressed to operate independently on its own, the Balkan crisis in the 90’s is a great example. Operations in Kosovo highlighted the inherent weakness of NATO Member countries and this was on full display during the Libyan military operation, where many NATO Countries did not have the military capability to conduct military operations and needed NATO. The president never articulated how he would implement partnership and cooperation with NATO and the European Union member countries, or how he would engage our allies in Asia.
CNN iReporter: What is it about NATO and UN that creates so much complications? Makes it very difficult, has so many challenges to it.
John Ubaldi: The concept of using or working through the UN or NATO is a viable option to use. But at the same time, we have to understand the limitations of both. NATO was established after the end of World War 2. NATO has expanded, but the problem with NATO, their military capability has not met reality. They can barely operate in their own borders. It was proven during the Balkan crises of the 1990’s. It showed in operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and definitely showed itself in Libya. NATO cannot operate beyond its own existing borders; they do not have the military capacity and have not invested in upgrading their military capabilities.
Working with the United Nations, the United States sits as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
The other two are Russia and China. If you need to get anything like sanctions on Syria, sanctions on Iran, both Russia and China have a vote. Both China and Russia Veto every UN resolution as a regards to Syria & Iran. So it’s very problematic to utilize these two organizations without understanding how they operate.
CNN iReporter: Well I want you to mention that the President wants to work through international coalitions and what are the challenges for this approach?
John Ubaldi: Now the President wants to utilize international coalitions. Both Republicans and Democrats have utilized this approach. The best example would be President George H.W. Bush during the first Gulf War. He utilized international coalition and what he did is, he lead first. He committed the United States ‘We are going to lead’ and we are not going to waver from that. The difference with the President he utilizes his international coalitions but he has the United States step back. The best example is the crisis in Ukraine. He is working through the European Union and NATO but he is allowing the European Union and NATO to have not much of a voice, to rule by consensus without the United States articulating what it wants to do. Because once the United States leads, the world follows along.