March 26, 2014

Russia’s Aggression Challenges Obama’s Foreign Policy

By Julianne Smith

Journalist(s) Nicole Gaouette

U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to forge a foreign policy for a globalized 21st Century have collided in Ukraine with what Secretary of State John Kerry has called 19th-century behavior.

The “bitter divides of the Cold War have been replaced by unity, partnership and peace,” said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, outlining that 21st-century vision in a speech in Paris in 2010, a year after the administration sought to “reset” relations with Russia. “Russia is no longer our adversary, but often a partner.”

In the last month, Obama and Clinton’s vision has been disrupted by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its troop buildup along the Ukrainian border. Europe’s new -- or renewed -- instability reveals longstanding weaknesses in the president’s vision of a partnership with Russia and global cooperation with the European Union and NATO democracies as far afield as Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, analysts, former government officials and diplomats say.

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  • Julianne Smith

    Senior Fellow and Director, Transatlantic Security Program

    Julianne (“Julie”) Smith is Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. She is a contributing editor to Fo...