Fareed Zakaria (Washington Post): …Obama has a worldview, a well-considered approach to international affairs. His views have been straightforward and consistent. From the earliest days of his presidential campaign he said that he sees the basic argument in American foreign policy as “between ideology and realism” and placed himself squarely on one side….
….beneath the rhetoric you can see a pragmatism at work again. After being caught unawares by events in Tunisia and Egypt – as was most everyone, including the leaders of those countries – the Obama administration saw that the protests in Egypt were going to succeed and acquiesced in the inevitable. It took Ronald Reagan two years to turn on Ferdinand Marcos. It took Obama two weeks to urge Hosni Mubarak to resign.
The fashionable criticism is that Obama does not have a consistent policy toward the Arab Spring. But should he? There are vast differences between the circumstances in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia; American interests in those countries; and our capacity to influence events there…..
In Libya, the administration confronted a potential humanitarian crisis in which Moammar Gaddafi’s domestic opposition, the Arab League, the United Nations and key European allies all urged international action. It found a way to participate in a multilateral intervention but has been disciplined about keeping its involvement limited…..
In all these cases, what marks administration policy is a careful calculation of costs and benefits. The great temptation of modern American foreign policy, from Versailles to Vietnam to Iraq, has been to make grand declarations – enunciate doctrines – that then produce huge commitments and costs. We are coming off a decade of such rhetoric and interventions and are still paying the price: more than $2 trillion, not to mention the massive cost in human lives. In that context, a foreign policy that emphasizes strategic restraint is appropriate and wise.
Full article here