Washington Post columnist David Ignatius speaks with former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, about the greatest success and shortcomings of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
The two men cited the Israel-Palestinian peace process as Obama’s most important unfinished business. Both have argued often that the president should have started by outlining the basic parameters for a Palestinian state, as they have emerged in negotiations over the past 40 years.
Brzezinski contended that it was "pathetic" to see the United States making big concessions to Israel this month — ones that should be reserved for a final "grand bargain" — simply to add another 60 days to a temporary freeze on Israeli settlements. If the peace process should collapse, Scowcroft argued that it still would make sense for Obama to specify the terms of a U.S. peace plan.
What perplexed both men was the disconnect between Obama’s strategic vision and what he has been able to achieve. "He makes dramatic presidential speeches," said Brzezinski, "but it’s never translated into a process in which good ideas become strategies." One complication, both noted, was a process of "subcontracting," in which major policy areas such as Middle East negotiations and Afghanistan-Pakistan have been handed over to special representatives.