The Obama foreign policy has been a failure.
The first round will be for acceptance, second/third for contentions, defense of contentions, and rebuttal, fourth for conclusions. No new ideas may be introduced in the fourth round.
Please have at least two contentions and keep things somewhat organized. Contentions do not necessarily have to be rebutted.
1. Foreign policy: a strategy pursued by a nation in its dealings with other nations
2. Failure: an act or instance of proving unsuccessful, ineffective, and/or counterproductive; nonperformance of something due, required, or expected
I wish the best of luck to my opponent and I look forward to a lively and interesting debate.
Judges, please read this debate with an open mind and a view toward voting for the best debater rather than the debater you happen to agree with. A ballot is an evaluation of who argued better, not a referendum on the resolution. I am aware this is a politically divisive issue, so if at the outset of this debate you have a hard time imagining yourself voting for the side you disagree with please abstain from voting.
I thank my opponent and echo his comments regarding judging.
The goal of any foreign policy must always be the furthering of the nation’s own interests abroad. Even in this global modern era, foreign policy is about the one’s own nation first and foremost. This is not to say that humanitarian and global concerns cannot play a major role in that nation’s interest; it is merely to say that foreign policy must always advance one’s country’s situation. Bearing this in mind, the rational observer must conclude that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been an utter failure. On every level, in every theater, and at every opportunity, this administration has shown an utter lack of understanding of international politics and has undermined America’s position at every turn. I present three contentions to illustrate the gross incompetence of the Obama foreign policy.
1.Obama has failed to make significant gains against America’s enemies and rivals.
Even before he started his first term, Obama touted a new foreign policy approach of “engagement” with countries that were considered unfriendly to American interests and goals. He resolved to meet with the leaders of Iran, to “reset” the troubled relationship with Russia, and to repair America’s image in the Arab world . Boiled down, Obama’s argument was that warmongers like George W. Bush had destroyed America’s reputation around the world with outdated ideas like the “freedom agenda” and “American exceptionalism,” and it could only be fixed by Obama’s new brand of “smart diplomacy.” This strategy has failed spectacularly.
In Iran, the Ayatollah still runs a brutal dictatorship that is utterly unwilling to cooperate with the international community . Their nuclear program is, by many estimates, only months away from weapons capability, threatening the very existence of one of our closest allies, Israel. Iranian Republican Guard troops have been sent to aid Assad’s crackdown in Syria. When, in 2009, the people of Iran rose up against the tyranny and attempted to overthrow the dictatorship, the President, the Leader of the Free World, refused to support them . He still believed that a diplomatic agreement could be reached with this rogue state. The rebellion was crushed, and with it, the only hope of a pro-American, internationally cooperative government in Tehran.
America’s relationship with Russia was supposed to “reset” under the Obama presidency. Both nations were supposed to set aside their Cold War differences and move forward together into broad sunlit uplands. Obama even brought Vladimir Putin a big red button, on which was printed “Reset” in Russian (actually, it was a mistranslation, adding further embarrassment to an already childish display) . The result of this “smart diplomacy” has been staggeringly counterproductive. Putin’s regime has blocked American interests at every turn: in Syria, Assad’s bloodbath continues due to the Russian veto in the Security Council and Russian and Iranian economic support; Edward Snowden, a fugitive charged with treason and saturated with highly sensitive information about American intelligence, successfully found asylum in Russia; and relations between the two countries are as strained as ever .
Obama’s one claim to foreign policy success, which he has touted for years now, is the killing of Osama bin Laden. And, while this is unquestionably a laudable achievement, his further claims that Al-Qaeda and their affiliates are on the run are absolute drivel. For the past few years, we have been seeing a resurgence of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, even as the President seeks to abandon that theater for political reasons . On the 11th anniversary of 9/11, these very same terrorist groups attacked the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the Ambassador and three others, while launching attacks on several other American embassies in the Middle East .
2. Obama has hurt relations with important American allies.
With the strengthening of American enemies on all sides, one would think that the maintenance and fortifying of important alliances would be a priority to the President. Not so for the champion of “smart diplomacy.” From the very beginning, Obama has alienated, ignored, or just dismissed some of America’s oldest and most strategic alliances.
The American relationship with the United Kingdom has always been special. When Britain stood alone as the last outpost of democracy in Nazi-occupied Europe, America was by her side. When Britain led the Western European fight against a rapidly advancing Iron Curtain, America gave her support. When America looked for support for wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq, Britain stood ready and willing. They even played the Star-Spangled Banner outside Buckingham Palace on September 12th, 2001. So how, on the brink of another seemingly inevitable conflict, could Britain vote to refuse our call for aid in a military intervention in Syria ? Thank Mr. Obama. After sending back a bust of Winston Churchill that had occupied a place of honor in the White House for decades, he rubbed salt on the wound at every opportunity, refusing support over the Falkland Islands dispute and favoring France and Germany as European leaders .
In the Middle East, our biggest ally happens to be the only functioning democracy in the region. Since its founding, Israel has been an integral of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Now, with terrorism stemming from the region more of a threat than ever, Obama has decided that he doesn’t like Benjamin Netanyahu . He has repeatedly and publicly shown his disdain for the Israeli Prime Minister, even refusing him an audience at a time when Israel seemed poised to strike the burgeoning Iranian nuclear program (Obama ended up using that time to go on Letterman) . The Israeli relationship is critical to US interests and has been utterly cast aside.
Finally, an area often overlooked in foreign policy has been deliberately snubbed by Obama. Eastern Europe has, since the end of the Cold War, expressed a great deal of camaraderie with the US, acknowledging America’s role in their new freedoms. American presidents have fostered this feeling with favorable trade agreements and a large missile defense network, until 2009, when Obama canceled that network to curry favor with Russia . This betrayal has left Eastern European nations like Poland and the Czech Republic with nowhere to turn but their perennial rivals, Germany and Russia .
3. Obama has destroyed America’s humanitarian image.
Several humanitarian crises have arisen during Obama’s presidency. The Syrian bloodbath, the struggle for democracy in countries such as Iran and Egypt, and oppression in China all demanded the attention of an arsenal of democracy like the US, but Obama paid them no heed. He failed to act on the Syria situation until Assad crossed the rhetorical “red line,” after over 100,000 civilians had already been slaughtered . As I already touched on, the freedom fighters in Iran received no support whatsoever from the President and the only attention he’s paid to Egypt has been his waffling over which new regime to supply massive amounts of unconditional military and economic aid . Finally, his prioritization of an economic summit with China over the desperate plea of a Chinese dissident seeking asylum reveals his utter lack of concern for the American commitment to human rights .
It is obvious that the Obama administration has been a detriment to American goals in foreign policy since his inauguration. In each situation America is confronted with, he and his advisers display an appalling lack of understanding of how world politics work and what America stands for.
 Commentary Magazine
 Foreign Policy Magazine
 The Guardian
 Jerusalem Post
 USA Today
 NY Times
Pro rattles off a list of situations where U.S. interest is at stake without making analysis on whether developments due to the Obama administration represent an improvement or regression. Foreign policy exists on a continuum- success generally isn’t represented by a clear win/loss evaluation. Often only minor foreign policy gains are huge successes.
When judging this debate, keep in mind the political realities that constrained Obama as he took the White House. There are many global problems that are either intractable or allow for only very incremental progress. That an administration has been unable to resolve a situation only represents a failure if viable alternatives would have led to a better outcome.
I also ask the Pro provide full citations to his sources for both his previous and upcoming rounds or forfeit the sources point on the bellow.
The Iranian nuclear program was well developed before Obama took office; by 2006 Iran had enough uranium to build 10 nuclear bombs . The development of an Iranian nuclear program is a Bush era failure.
Derailing nuclear weapons programs is very difficult- this is why even broke countries like North Korea can become a nuclear state. Stopping such programs can only be achieved through pre-emptive military engagement or diplomacy. A pre-emptive military strike is not a viable political option- the U.S. is war weary from two ten year wars in the middle east and resources are already stretched due to these wars. Controversy over Syria only underscores that U.S. credibility on pre-emptive strikes has been ruined by Iraq’s lack of WMDs.
Obama has been pushing the diplomatic front with some success, greatly expanding sanctions against Iran in 2010 and cracking down on currency exchanges with the country. The recently elected Iranian president made a campaign promise to remove sanctions against Iran and is seeking to open up negotiations with the West . Iran opening up to nuclear negotiations is an Obama success.
Obama’s refusal to meddle in Iranian protests is a success. Political revolutions are volatile and unpredictable- just look at how Egypt’s “democratic” revolution ended in a military run government. Obama learned a lesson from history- the U.S. got behind the Iranian coup in 1953, and created the deep mistrust of the U.S. that exists in Iran today.
Obama made big foreign policy gains while Medvedev was in power. In 2010 Obama signed the “New START” treaty, a major nuclear-arms agreement that replaced the old START II treaty.
Relations turned frosty with Putin in power, but this is not an Obama failure. Putin is nationalistic and hawkish- he pursued military confrontation during the Bush administration as well, e.g. the Georgian conflict in 2008. There are signs that the relationship is warming up- talks at the G20 meeting between Putin and Obama reassured investors with an eye on international relations, resulting in positive gains on the Dow .
Russia has been blocking U.N. measures on western intervention since forever, e.g. Kosovo. Yet Russia did not block U.N. approval of Obama’s intervention in Libya.
3. Al Qaeda
The Obama administration has gutted Al Qaeda’s core leadership, including the infamous take down of Osama bin Laden .
There has been a resurgence of Al Qaeda, but this has been caused by the political upheaval of Arab revolutions. Revolutions create fertile grounds for terrorist cells to recruit and work outside the reach of the law. Additionally, the loss of centralized leadership focusing group efforts on the U.S. and the Arab uprisings have led AL Qaeda to be less focused on the U.S.  The resurgence of Al Qaeda is due to factors outside of U.S. control, but Obama has managed the situation so that Al Qaeda’s efforts are no longer directed against the U.S.
Al Qaeda is no longer the organization capable of a 9/11 attack, but is instead a loose organization trying to sway domestic politics in the Middle East.
4. Britain and European Allies
Britain and European allies support the U.S. on Syria, as shown by a recent sign of support at the G20 summit . The British backing down from actual military involvement signifies more to do with domestic UK politics than a backing away from strategic alignment with the U.S.
U.S. credibility and perception was at a low coming out of the Bush administration. Obama has only improved relations.
Obama supports Israel. Obama oversaw the largest joint US-Israeli exercises in history, increased military support . Pro-Israel lobby groups have praised Obama’s “steadfast” support of Israel .
6. Eastern Europe
Pro points to the move of a missile defense shield from Eastern Europe to the pacific as some great disruption in relations. First, the shield had been under negotiation for 7 years so it’s not like Obama scrapped a set in stone plan. The missile shield has been contentious within Poland and Czech Republic – in 2007 57% of Poles opposed it. This had no negative impact on relations. 
The Obama move was praised by allies of the U.S. like France and Germany- demonstrating that Obama’s policy has been successful at gaining allies. 
Finally, moving the shield is a smart strategic realignment in light of North Korean threats against the US made in 2013.
7. Humanitarian Image
Seriously, just ignore this entire argument. First, humanitarian crises have always existed; the U.S. not acted on the vast majority of them. We failed to act in Rwanda and Darfur, our lack of intervention in Egypt is not making or breaking U.S. humanitarian credibility. Second, what is Pro suggesting as a response? Does Pro think a successful foreign policy is to intervene in Egypt, Syria, and tanking Chinese economic relations? This would be a disastrous course of action and Obama’s decisions here are another sign of smart prioritization and diplomatic success.
The U.S. lead the way in passing a U.N. resolution authorizing intervention in the Libyan civil war and coordinating an international military response via NATO. This overthrew the dictator Gaddafi and supported a popular revolution. The successful intervention in Libya refutes Pro’s claims that Obama has weakened relationships with allies.
Obama has led negotiations of the TPP- a massive free trade agreement involving countries in North American and the Asian Pacific . The TPP exists as a starting point for broader free trade agreements like the FTAAP . Such an agreement would involve 40% of U.S. trade and would yield a $200 billion increase in exports.  The TPP offers tremendous economic benefits to its members.
The TPP also cements the U.S. into the economic architecture of Asia- undermining China’s influence and preserving U.S. Hegemony.
Obama has also worked to strengthen economic ties with china. He has also put pressure on China to develop a multilateral agreement stabilizing regional disputes in the South China Sea- this has seen progress as china held joint military exercises with the U.S. to build trust .
I will certainly provide (in the comments) the full sources
First, on the subject of Con’s “continuum” argument, Obama
The effect of Bush-era policies on the Iranian nuclear program
Obama’s much-touted New START Treaty holds very little
The leading figures in the central Al Qaeda organization
The “support” given by the UK and other European allies on
Military exercises do not a relationship make. At every real
Con claims that the missile shield decision had “no negative
Please do not
Con mentions the
Pro needs to list ALL his sources in the text of the debate or lose the sources point. This is standard DDO practice. I had to use characters on my sources, Pro should too..
Bush-era policies are relevant to the historical context by which we evaluate Obama’s policies. Obama inherited two wars and a massive credibility problem, making military intervention in Iran a much harder sell than Bush had for the invasion of Iraq.
Pro has no evidence that U.S. intervention in 2009 Iranian protests would have resulted in a positive outcome. The risks of such an intervention are massive- creating civil war in a country with nuclear material, radicalizing the Iranian public, destabilizing the largest Middle Eastern power and creating regional conflict. Abstaining from intervention was a foreign policy success.
The Ayatollah has endorsed the new government as “fresh blood…comprised of experts.” Recently it was announced that the Foreign Ministry would take over nuclear negotiations, notably replacing a more conservative branch of the Iranian government . This signals an opening up to the West – a positive improvement from the state of affairs on Bush’s last day in office.
Pro misses the point on Putin. Putin has always acted as a strongman and a bully, starting actual military engagements under Bush. Russia has blocked US led UN measures for 20 years. None of this is unique or has anything to with whether Obama or Bush or Sarah Palin is in the White House.
Pro fails to explain how Russia’s influence has expanded. Again, Russia opposed intervention in Libya, yet the U.S. was able to rally international support. 
Pro ignored my point that Putin was warming up at the G20 summit. Recent developments show that this warming up is resulting in the US and Russia working together to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile . Syrian disarmament would be a major foreign policy success for Obama. Obama’s threat of military forced prompted a rapid response from both Russia and the Syrian government to placate the US.
The US built the international coalition that authorized the Libyan strike. Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice were crucial in gaining international support from the Middle East. Obama personally pressured the South African president to stand behind the U.N. resolution authorizing action. 
Yes, early in the conflict Obama did not call for intervention. Hawkishness would have been a mistake given the perception of the U.S. as opportunistic and aggressive due to Iraq. Instead, Obama strategically used U.S. clout to make sure that when the time for action came, it could be done with an unassailable air of legitimacy.
I acknowledge the new power structure of Al Qaeda- my R2 argument explicitly accounts for this. The new decentralized power structure means that Al Qaeda no longer has the capability to carry out large scale terrorist attacks. This represents a massive gain in U.S. security- Obama has removed Al Qaeda’s ability to carry out another 9/11.
Pro argues that the new Al Qaeda still is a threat by citing a FAILED attempt carried out one year into Obama’s presidency. That this is his go to argument proves how weak his case is.
If nothing else, Obama brought bin Laden to justice. Forgetting all other arguments about Al Qaeda, this is in itself a huge foreign policy success.
Again, international support of the US was at a low thanks to Bush and Iraq. Gallup polls show that Obama provided a massive boost to perception of US leadership. Bush had us at a meager 34% approval rating; Obama bumped us up to a whopping 49% approval and maintained a strong approval rating. 
According to Pro, the UK begged for help with Libya and Obama gave it to them. How is this not supporting allies?
Pro doesn’t refute that Obama has materially increased support to Israel. Pro’s argument rests on supposed “snubbing” while mine rests on hard cash and military aid.
Obama has aligned himself firmly with Israeli security concerns with respect to Palestine. On a March 2013 trip the Obama backed the primacy of Israeli security in negotiations and opened up talks of long term military aid and acknowledge that Israeli innovation was crucial to US security . In both rhetoric and action Obama has stood behind Israel.
Pro cites a few eastern European politicians who opposed the missile decisions, but this doesn’t prove any damage to eastern European relations. Pro’s source also claims “Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he was "100 percent convinced" that the step was no expression of a cooling in relations between the United States and the Czech Republic.
Pro doesn’t dispute that Western allies like France and Germany applauded the move. These allies are more powerful so even if Czech is a little rustled the move was worth it to strengthen ties to an economic powerhouse like Germany.
Pro’s says Obama has hurt the U.S. humanitarian image, yet offers no evidence of this. Pro merely lists off things he wish Obama did different. I can list things I think he did right, but neither of us will have proven anything about global perception of Obama. Cross apply my  which shows that Obama has in fact boosted US image internationally.
Finally, Obama has confronted China on human rights . Pro’s other suggestion is for the U.S. intervene everywhere with a humanitarian crisis. Pro explicitly thinks we should have intervened in the Iranian revolution, the Syrian revolution, Mali, and I guess somehow in China. If this is the ideal foreign policy Pro is using to measure Obama, I think it’s a fantastic stroke of good fortune that Pro thinks Obama is a failure.
Pro is wrong that the TPP is Obama’s only trade policy- he signed a free trade agreement with Columbia, South Korea, and Panama. This is another foreign policy success, but it also proves Obama’s political will to liberalize trade and it serves as a test case proving he is willing to go against protectionist groups like labor unions.
Pro’s evidence about Obama delaying TPP is bunk- every country negotiating the TPP has sticking points and domestic interests they have to deal with, that’s why treaties have “negotiations.” NAFTA took 6 years to negotiate, TPP will take longer.
Obama has more than rhetoric in the South China Sea- he has military power there. Obama has spearheaded a “pivot to the pacific” in realigning US military priority. This pivot has involved intensified exercises with key allies like Australia, Japan and Korea as well as shifting of naval and aircraft capabilities to the Pacific . Obama has worked to shift US military capabilities to reflect the eastward drift of geopolitical power- a forward thinking strategic realignment that will pay off in the coming decades.
Obama entered office after the military adventurism of Bush crippled US credibility. The ghost of Iraq still haunts US policy as the world questions the trustworthiness US claims on Syria. The over-eager interventionism that Pro advocates has left the US in a bad position. Obama’s restraint and judicious use of military and diplomatic power have allowed him to further US interests while avoiding the pitfalls of prolonged military engagement and erosion of US credibility.
My opponent’s case against Obama rests largely on Pro’s foreign policy worldview which touts aggressive intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries. This is the same worldview which embroiled the US in the costly Iraq War that tanked US credibility and global perception of the US. Pro finds Obama to be a failure by relying on a standard of judgment which is backward and wrong. Because Pro’s standard is wrong, so is his conclusion.
Obama has refrained from excessive interventionism, judiciously exercising US force to advance US interests while avoiding the pitfalls of an excessively interventionist policy. In this way Obama has been a success.
US policy prior to Obama pursued conflict in Iraq at the cost of ignoring Iran and allowing the Iranian program to progress. Any positive change of course from this policy is a success.
I have presented evidence that recent changes in government demonstrate that Iran is opening up to the West and is interested in negotiating about its nuclear program. I also explained how the new elected government ran on campaign promises of alleviating the burdens of embargos put in place by the Obama administration, demonstrating that Obama’s policy has been changing public and government opinion.
Pro’s only response was that the new government doesn’t represent the will of the true ruler of Iran- the Ayatollah. But I have shown that the Ayatollah endorsed the new government, signifying that recent government changes indicate a reorientation of the Iranian government.
Pro concedes that Obama has a massive hit list of Al Qaeda leaders but insists that this does not signal a weakening of Al Qaeda. As evidence Pro points to a FAILED terrorist attack that happened one year into Obama’s presidency. I presented evidence which explains that Al Qaeda is reorganizing due to loss of leadership and political revolution in the Middle East. These two pressures have worked to reorient Al Qaeda’s priorities- they are focused on local political ambitions- and remove Al Qaeda’s ability to launch large scale terrorist attacks- they no longer have the centralized leadership required to do so. This represents a massive gain for US security.
Obama has pushed a very successful Asia policy. First, he has reoriented US military capabilities to reflect the shift geopolitical climate. Obama has initiated joint military exercises with Pacific allies, refuting Pro’s claim that Obama ignores US allies. This reorientation is crucial to protecting US military supremacy and represents a major step forward for US foreign policy strategy.
Second, Obama has pushed the TPP agreement, a massive free trade agreement that will cement the US into the Asian economy.
Pro tried to refute my argument by claiming Obama has been holding up the TPP to protect his political base. I have shown that Obama has already signed a free trade agreement with Panama and Korea that went against powerful Union lobby groups that support Obama. Empirically Obama has proven he is willing to fight lobbying interests to pursue economically beneficial trade agreements.
Pro offers meager evidence for Russia “getting its way” while I put forward the UN consensus on Libya as evidence that the US still marshals international foreign policy. Moreover, Pro’s arguments about Russia’s supposed dominance could all be made about pre-Obama presidents like Bush and Clinton as well. Finally, the START treaty and recent cooperation on Syria prove that Obama is working toward building relations with Russia- a cooperative relationship that must be counted as a success.
I presented evidence demonstrating that Obama’s foreign policy team worked hard to ensure the overwhelming international support for the Libya campaign. This alone is a foreign policy success but it also proves that US leadership is strong under Obama.
Allies/Eastern Europe/Humanitarian Image
My Gallup poll is the only hard evidence in this debate on how the world views Obama’s leadership and it clearly shows that Obama has given a huge boost to foreign perception of the US. Prior to Obama the US had the fourth highest approval rating; Obama brought the US to the #1 rating and held that spot.
Even Pro’s arguments show that Obama has supported its allies. His missile shield argument was a move that our allies in France and Germany applauded, and his Libya argument is that we only helped France after they asked us to.
Pro offers only squishy talk of Obama “snubbing” Israeli officials, while I offer the hard facts of increased military aid. I have also shown that Obama talks up the Israeli relationship- Obama said they were important for “innovation” in US security and opened up talks for increased aid.
Pro has failed to show that Obama’s foreign policy is a failure. In light of this fact, judges ought to vote Con.
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