Obama's Dilemma: Reassurance or Accommodation?
After eight years of the Bush presidency, when the United States was perceived as disdainful of allies and excessively aggressive toward challengers, U.S. President Barack Obama promised a change in course. This appears to involve closer consultation with partners and greater engagement with adversaries.
But despite Obama's optimistic rhetoric, adhering to these two strategies requires his administration to perform a difficult balancing act. Japan's reconsideration of the contours of its alliance with the United States and India's fearfulness that a U.S. focus on Pakistan and China signals strategic abandonment are indicative of some of the problems that could result. Such episodes are demonstrative of the difficulty of sustaining a strategy of trying to please everyone all of the time; the United States must balance its desire to achieve broader common goals with the reality that all actions have potentially negative consequences for its diplomatic relationships