The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power
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The definitive analysis of the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Obama’s foreign policy—with a new afterword for his second term
When Barack Obama first took office, he brought with him a new group of foreign policy advisers intent on carving out a new global role for America in the wake of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. Now the acclaimed author of Rise of the Vulcans offers a definitive, even-handed account of the messier realities they’ve faced in implementing their policies and the challenges they will face going into the second term.
In The Obamians, prizewinning author and journalist James Mann tells the compelling story of the administration’s struggle to enact a coherent and effective set of policies in a time of global turmoil. At the heart of this struggle are the generational conflicts between the Democratic establishment—including Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden—and Obama and his inner circle of largely unknown, remarkably youthful advisers, who came of age after the Cold War had ended.
Written by a proven master at elucidating political underpinnings even to the politicians themselves, The Obamians is a pivotal reckoning of this historic president and his inner circle, and of how their policies may or may not continue to shape America and the world. This edition includes a new afterword by the author on how the Obamians’ foreign policy affected the 2012 election and what that means for the future.
Select Committee on Intelligence, various parts of the intelligence community had fumbled a series of chances to uncover the plans for the bombing. A few weeks earlier, Abdulmutallab’s own father had gone to the American embassy in Nigeria to say he was worried that his son had increasingly radical views, had been associating with dangerous-looking people and had vanished in Yemen. While the embassy passed this information on to Washington, the State Department didn’t check to see that
demonstrations in Egypt, they were asked why they hadn’t done likewise in Iran two years earlier. In private, some officials acknowledged that they had been too tepid in supporting Iran’s Green Movement two years earlier, and that in retrospect they might have acted differently—particularly since the attempt to persuade Iran’s leaders to give up their nuclear program had been rebuffed. In public, they didn’t admit error. Instead, they came up with a workable rationale to differentiate Iran and
people who had taken to Tahrir Square a year earlier but on the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood, a force the United States had opposed for decades, to fend off the challenges of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt. * * * In his inaugural address, Obama had summarized his new policy of engagement by addressing America’s adversaries. “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” he said. Iran was at the top of the list of countries for which these words were intended. But over
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during Vietnam; Defense Secretary Dick Cheney’s warning to Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell before the Persian Gulf War to “stick to military matters”;15 and George W. Bush’s decision to reject the advice of military leaders who did not favor the surge in Iraq. The fact that the Obamians viewed the president’s warning to Gates and Mullen in such breathtaking terms was mostly a sign of their own inexperience. During Obama’s three months of meetings on Afghanistan, Gates gradually came around to