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Dean’s Discussion addresses Obama’s foreign policy

By Kaitie Catania

Derek Chollet talks to the School of International Service's Dean Goldgeier.

Each semester, School of International Service (SIS) Dean James Goldgeier invites prominent experts and practitioners to campus for one-on-one discussions about critical topics in international affairs through the Dean’s Discussion series. On September 6, Dean Goldgeier hosted former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet for the first Dean’s Discussion of the new academic year, which C-SPAN covered.

This discussion focused on Chollet’s book, The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World, in which Chollet draws on his own unique experience in the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department to argue that Obama’s foreign policy strategies have positioned America for lasting success, or in other words play “the long game.”

“What I mean by that is not that [Obama is] thinking: Just wait and everything will work out fine, and just ignore the issues of the moment; but to try what academics call ‘having a grand strategy’ and set the United States on a course that, over time, can succeed,” said Chollet.

From Obama’s choice against using force in Syria to a quarter-century of US military involvement in Iraq, and from American exceptionalism to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dean Goldgeier covered a variety of topics and US foreign policies featured in The Long Game with Chollet before turning the discussion over to audience members for questions.

One student asked Chollet how cybersecurity plays into Obama’s long-term defense strategies. Chollet replied: “The critique about Obama is that oftentimes he’s portrayed as someone who is uncomfortable with the military; doesn’t like to use force; uncertain of leadership; what have you. But yet…[Obama] has used the traditional military often. He has used instruments of power—drones—often, and he has innovated the use of cyber as an instrument of defense policy. I think this is an issue for the future, and it’s something that [Obama] spent a lot of time working on.”

In addition to authoring The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World and serving as former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chollet is counselor and senior advisor for security and defense policy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. To view the entire Dean’s Discussion with Derek Chollet and hear his thoughts on how Obama’s foreign policy strategies are designed for future American success, click here.