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Time for Plan B on Obama’s Triple Containment of Russia, China, Iran

Friday, June 20, 2014

When the Obama administration took control of U.S. foreign policy in 2009, it undertook to mitigate what it considered the damage wrought by the George W. Bush team. The Iraq War was to be wound down, although, as it happens, more or less along the timeline laid down by the previous president. Afghanistan, the forgotten war, was to be quickly turned around by a judicious application of U.S resources and attention. A deft wielding of diplomacy would end the standoff with Iran, “reset” relations with Russia and bring China into a new dialogue to solve global problems. After the massive expenditures for conflict that marked the first decade of the 21st century, America would have a period of quiet in which to rebuild its economic might and return rejuvenated to the world stage.

Things did not go according to this plan. That does not mean that the attempt was futile and therefore should never have been tried, as some of the president's critics charge. But it does mean that it is past time to move to a “Plan B” for U.S. foreign policy. What is problematic is that over the past year, whether by design or by accident, Washington seems to have embarked on an overly ambitious plan of "triple containment" to counter any expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East, Russian influence in the Eurasian space and Chinese influence in East Asia. But it has not articulated the strategic rationale for such a measure or generated the political support necessary for devoting the expenditure of the necessary resources to give such an approach better odds of achieving success. ...

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