Will US budget cuts lead to splendid isolation?

(By Deutsche Welle) With defense cuts looming in the US, Secretary of State John Kerry has warned against growing isolationist sentiment. But experts say that Washington is simply adopting a more restrained foreign policy.

US President Barack Obama published his budget on Tuesday, a week after Secretary of State Kerry had warned that cuts in military spending potentially signaled a “new isolationism” among the American public and its elected representatives.

“This not a budget we want,” Kerry told reporters last Wednesday. “It’s not a budget that does what we need. It was the best the president could get. It’s not what he wanted.”

“Look at our efforts to get the president’s military force decision on Syria backed up on (Capitol Hill),” the secretary of state said. “Look at the House of Representatives with respect to the military and the budget.”

“All of those diminish our ability to do things,” Kerry said, adding that the US was “acting like a poor nation.”

But according to Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, accusations of “isolationism” are little more than a political tactic used to delegitimize critics.

“This is standard American politics,” Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran and former army colonel, told DW. “There seems to be a belief in Washington that if you can portray your critics as isolationists, that doing so will then strengthen one’s own claim to wisdom. The United States is not an isolationist country – quite frankly it’s never been. Certainly it’s not today.”

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US election unlikely to change US foreign policy

(By Deutsche Welle) As the election nears, President Obama and Governor Romney have tried to draw clear distinctions between their foreign policies. But the next president will face hard realities that leave little room for maneuver.

Throughout the campaign season, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has sought to present an alternative vision to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, saying that he will lead the US into another “American Century” by acting with “clarity and resolve” on the world stage.

Romney’s rhetoric plays to an electorate that still views the United States as the most important country in the world, but one whose influence is ebbing after 10 years of war and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Just 24 percent of Americans believe their country plays “a more important” role as world leader compared to a decade ago, according to a September 2012 study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“When Obama was elected there was a recognition that the American people felt we were overcommitted in a number of places, and you’ve seen obviously the decision to get out of Iraq as the most obvious manifestation of that,” Stephen Walt, an American foreign policy expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, told DW. “Even when Obama decided he was going to escalate in Afghanistan he put a deadline on it.”

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