President Obama has come home from the Group of 20 summit with essentially no more international support for a strike on Syria than when he left the U.S. He spent the last three days in Sweden and Russia, lobbying U.S. allies on the sidelines and on the public stage, with little movement. The conflict has presented perhaps the biggest challenge yet to Obama’s multilateralist inclinations.
As soon as he took office, Obama emphasized the larger Group of 20 major economies over the smaller G-8 forum. He has also tried to balance China’s rise by bringing Asia and Latin America into one great big trans-Pacific partnership.
Barry Blechman of the nonpartisan Stimson Center says there are philosophical and economic reasons for this. The U.S. is coming out of a decade of war and an economic recession – acting alone costs money. “The burdens rightfully should be shared. There’s no reason to expect the American people to pay the price of imposing peace and order on the world,” Blechman says.
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