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Dennis Ross analyses “Obama the pragmatist”

In an article for Politico Magazine, Dennis Ross, one of America’s foremost foreign policy experts, analyses how President “Obama the pragmatist” will approach his toughest foreign policy test yet. Dennis describes Obama as a pragmatic foreign policy thinker, but what does this means for the days ahead in Ukraine?

Although Obama is now acting to mobilise a set of diplomatic and economic consequences, Dennis states that he can’t be sure whether this is done out of realism or idealism, or indeed if any President’s foreign policy can be categorised so neatly.

This becomes particularly apparent when looking at how Obama reacted to earlier foreign policy crises: his hesitancy to intervene in Syria leads many to conclude that he is a traditional realist, whereas his call for Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to leave office, and the intervention in Libya were driven very heavily by humanitarian instincts.

Dennis explains that regardless of which stance drives his foreign policy, undisguised military aggression should warrant a cost for such behaviour. He points out that “what guides Obama in his decision-making on interventions as much as anything is feasibility…he has to evaluate those costs against what we have at stake.”

He added that “[having] stated that there will be consequences for Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine, the president understands that the costs of doing nothing would be high, and we must now demonstrate the meaning of those words—even if that does not translate into military action.”

Will his actions be driven by idealism or realism – or both? Click here for the full story.

To find out more about Dennis Ross, or to book him as a geopolitical speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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