Michael O’Hanlon: Obama’s Foreign Policy

(By Jessica Rodriguez)–Last week the Junior Fellows attended a presentation by Michael O’Hanlon who offered an in-depth assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy disappointments and triumphs.

O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, specializes in U.S. defense strategy, use of military force, homeland security and American foreign policy, provided provocative commentary on the topic, and proved to be a friendly and approachable presenter.

The Junior Fellows were able to attend through their membership with the World Affairs Council.

Jessica Rodriguez with WAC’s Ronan O’Malley

Accordingly, the Fellows and their (student) guests also received complimentary books by O’Hanlan, “Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.”  O’Hanlan signed the books following the event.

Michael O’Hanlon Signing His Book

O’Hanlan stressed four major points in concluding his discussion of Obama’s foreign policy: (1) President Obama has moved away from his campaign rhetoric of 2008 and has become a (successful) pragmatist; (2) on a case-by-case basis, Obama’s handling of discrete foreign policy events has been as successful as any President other than George H. W. Bush, (3) any assessment of Obama’s foreign policy is preliminary until the Israel-Iran conflict is resolved, and (4) the best foreign policy maneuver may simply be restoring the American economy to a point that allows the US to regain its capacity to exercise power.

O’Hanlan did a great job of giving a balanced view of Obama’s foreign policy, and he covered the topic comprehensively for an informative evening.

Michael O’Hanlon Speaking

After the event, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  The Junior Fellows don’t usually eat at chains, but this was different for a lot of us, and we all tried new things: hummus with tomatoes, chile relleno, and various pizzas.

California Pizza Kitchen

My pizza was a habanero carnitas pizza—a cheese pizza topped with delicious roasted-pork, onions, and a spicy habanero sauce.

It was an educational and fun evening!


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