Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University

President Barack Obama talks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office, Sept. 27, 2013.
Photo credit: White House: Pete Souza

February 18, 2014 - CISAC, FSI Stanford In the News

Zegart: Obama's foreign policy is robust. But is it sustainable?

CISAC Co-Director Amy Zegart argues in this Foreign Policy commentary that, like all presidents, President Obama is relatively unconstrained in the near term to pursue the foreign policies he desires. She notes that despite economic woes, a polarized Congress and skyrocketing national debt, Obama has been "strangely unconstrained in executing his major foreign policy priorities."

"He surged then drew down in Afghanistan, intervened in Libya, pivoted to Asia, negotiated an interim nuclear deal with Iran, expanded NSA surveillance capabilities, and deployed drones to kill suspected terrorists, including American citizens, around the world without much of a peep from Congress (with the exception of Rand Paul)."

But he is seriously and dangerously constrained over the longer term by three factors that are often hard to see -- but growing worse: The paradox of political time; the growing dysfunction of the American political system; and the changing nature of hard military power since 9/11.

Topics: Foreign policy | Afghanistan | Iran | Libya | United States