Head of State

Obama’s Realpolitik Foreign Policy

Did President Obama present a coherent foreign-policy philosophy at his nuclear-weapons summit this week? “If there is an Obama doctrine emerging, it is one much more realpolitik than his predecessor’s, focused on relations with traditional great powers and relegating issues like human rights and democracy to second-tier concerns,” Peter Baker writes in The New York Times. Rahm Emanuel says, “Everybody always breaks it down between idealist and realist. If you had to put him in a category, he’s probably more realpolitik, like Bush 41. He knows that personal relationships are important, but you’ve got to be cold-blooded about the self-interests of your nation.” Stephen G. Rademaker, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, tells Baker, “For a president coming out of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, it’s remarkable how much he has pursued a great power strategy. It’s almost Kissingerian. It’s not very sentimental. Issues of human rights do not loom large in his foreign policy, and issues of democracy promotion, he’s been almost dismissive of.”