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President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 12, 2014 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Obama’s Muddled Messaging Encourages U.S. Allies to Free Ride

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

After nearly six years in office, the Obama administration has still not found the appropriate balance in its foreign policy rhetoric between making the case for continued U.S. leadership of the international system and encouraging other countries to help lighten America’s load by taking up more of the burden. This is often reflected in the frustration that comes through in the speeches and statements of senior leaders, including those of the president himself, that other states seem to fail to appreciate how endorsing and then providing concrete support to realize a U.S. position in international affairs is in their interest.

In turn, U.S. partners and allies themselves struggle between an unwillingness to be drawn into what are perceived as U.S.-created problems and an equal unwillingness to refuse outright America’s requests for help. They must then calculate what token level of support must be proffered to appease Washington, while minimizing the negative ramifications that might result; the participation of United Arab Emirates fighter jets in airstrikes over Syria comes to mind, as does India's half-hearted compliance with U.S. sanctions on Iran. ...

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