Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Editor-in-Chief of The Washington Quarterly and Senior Fellow at CSIS, Alexander Lennon, spoke in Paris to offer his prognostic about Obama's approach to the emerging global security order during the second half of his administration.
The US will shift from action to reaction during these next two years as it necessarily reflects on how to adapt the major pillars of American foreign policy as the 3 pillars of the post-Cold War global security order are called evermore into question.

1. Expansion of free markets: The global financial crisis demonstrated the fallibility of a Western-led internet-based market economy. China's model characterized by capital controls and managed exchange rates (and managing this is the true "China Challenge") has been an example for other emerging markets.

2. Spread of democracy: The US-led invasion of Iraq cast many doubts - should the US have been there at all? Was the violence justified given the outcome? Is democracy appropriate for nations with no history of this governance? - a question that will be played out in the Arab revolutions' second acts.

3. Peace (use of force in self-defense): Following 9/11, the US undermined this pillar by balking at international legal norms governing the use of force in the premise of its Iraq invasion.

A highlight of the event came in Lennon's response to an audience question about the failure of engagement with Iran. For Lennon, engagement is a means to an end rather than the end itself; therefore, engaging "hostile" countries can increase pressure rather than meaningful integration. Toughening sanctions coupled with ongoing talks can be very effective parallel tracks, especially as indecipherable internal domestic battles play out within, and shape the changing stances of, your adversary.

- Amy Greene

(photo credit: CSIS)