International Brawn: America Increasingly Perceived as ‘Weak’

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As America’s foreign policy has changed and developed over Obama’s time in office — a less aggressive approach than his predecessor — it has become the subject of criticism for its strength, both from international opponents and allies. Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, most recently spoke in frustration on the U.S.’s “weakness,” angrily stating that Israel no longer feels that it can depend on it’s long time Western ally to take the lead when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. “We had thought it would be the United States that would lead the campaign against Iran,” he said according to Reuters, claiming that Washington’s response to the Ukrainian conflict is another example of the U.S. “showing weakness.”

The sentiment is one that has been heard from within as well as without, with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) critical of Obama’s response to Russia’s advances on Ukraine as well. “There are no consequences when you defy what Obama’s telling you to do,” she said to the New York Times. “You can bet the Chinese are watching our every move. They want to know where the limits are, or if there are any,” said a senior official.

In 2002, then Senator Obama, had called the Iraq war a “dumb war,” and has, as a whole, taken a backseat to international conflict, likely cognizant that America was suffering from war fatigue by the time he reached office. However, this strategy may be growing old, at least for some. “We’re seeing the ‘light footprint‘ run out of gas,” said an ex-aide of Obama to the New York Times. “No one is arguing for military action, for bringing back George Bush’s chest-thumping,” he said, but voiced concerns that rhetoric to the effect that nations would be “isolated” or “pay a heavy price,” becoming “more like predictions over time, and less like imminent threats.”

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