Obama: The Reluctant Realist

By June 7, 2015

Mideast Security and Policy Studies No. 113


In this provocative study, Prof. Steven David of Johns Hopkins argues that, contrary to the assertion that Barack Obama’s foreign policy lacks direction or ideological basis, the president’s foreign policy can be explained as adhering very closely to traditional realist theory. Obama’s key foreign policy decisions, including the pivot to Asia, the handling of Iran’s nuclear program, the reaction to Russian intervention in Ukraine, and the response to the “Arab Spring,” were all consistent with realism. The study also considers the implications of this for Israel. Prof. David asserts that while a realist foreign policy is not necessarily an admirable one, critics of Obama’s foreign policy should recognize their objections are as much with realism as they are with the President.

Read the article online.

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(Photo Credit: Freedom House- Flicker)

Prof. Steven R. David

Prof. Steven R. David is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies’ International Academic Advisory Board.