Philip Zelikow: Obama's Foreign Policy is Reminiscent of Eisenhower’s

Roundup: Historians' Take

The writer is a dean and professor of history at the University of Virginia. From 2005 to 2007 he was counsellor of the US Department of State.

Barack Obama’s new defence strategy caps the most important year in American foreign policy for a decade. Whatever grade one gives to the president’s decisions, they are certainly consequential, adding up to the most profound shift in US foreign policy since the convulsive period between September 2001 and August 2002.

The shift is reflected in the planned defence posture outlined last week by the Obama administration, which makes clear that the "Atlantic community" is being eclipsed by the rising Asia-Pacific one.

Some of the Asia-Pacific move reflects older initiatives; some is mainly symbolic. However, the cumulative boost of American energy and commitment is palpable. Indeed, the main challenge now for Washington may be to restrain the momentum of the large, coarse Sino-neuralgic political forces it has set in motion. Some of America’s Asian friends are uneasy. They wanted more reassurance, but not at the expense of rattling the table...

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