President Obama has released an outline of his foreign policy achievements to be included in the State of the Union address tonight. As expected, he touts the end of the war in Iraq, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the drawdown in Afghanistan:
“For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. We’ve decimated al Qaeda’s leadership, delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and put that terrorist network on the path to defeat. We’ve made important progress in Afghanistan, and begun a transition so Afghans can assume more responsibility. We joined with allies and partners to protect the Libyan people as they ended the regime of [Muammar Qaddafi].”
But the outline says not a word about the problems he faces and hasn’t solved. Above all, it says nothing about Iran, where a confrontation is looming and his Republican rivals are accusing the president of appeasement. Let’s hope the fact that Obama doesn’t mention Iran, and generally avoids a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude in favor of emphasizing the end of one war and the coming end of another is a sign that Obama will avoid belligerence in his speech tonight. Specifically, when it comes to Iran, let’s see how strongly he reaffirms his earlier commitment to diplomacy and engagement.
Meanwhile, Iraq is a mess, relations with China are tense over the White House’s “pivot” toward what looks like a containment policy against Beijing, the Arab Spring has gotten ugly, parts of Africa (especially Nigeria) are unraveling, and Russia is enmeshed in turmoil, rebellion, and a slide toward dictatorship. Yes, it’s a speech about jobs, jobs, jobs. But let’s keep an eye on the rest of the world, too.