Cohen talks about it in a recent NYT column. Pretty brutal depiction.
Nasr, as you may know, is respected expert on Iran and he spent two years working for State.
“IT is not going too far to say that American foreign policy has become completely subservient to tactical domestic political considerations.”
This stern verdict comes from Vali Nasr, who spent two years working for the Obama administration before becoming dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In a book called “The Dispensable Nation,” to be published in April, Nasr delivers a devastating portrait of a first-term foreign policy that shunned the tough choices of real diplomacy, often descended into pettiness, and was controlled “by a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers.”
I have little doubt in the verdict, but frankly, this is what the American people voted for in both 2008 and 2012: focus on the economy and temporize on foreign affairs.
Nasr was led to the reluctant conclusion that the principal aim of Obama’s policies “is not to make strategic decisions but to satisfy public opinion.”
In this sense the first-term Obama foreign policy was successful: He was re-elected. Americans wanted extrication from the big wars and a smaller global footprint: Obama, with some back and forth, delivered. But the price was high and opportunities lost.
Lots of material on how Nasr's boss Holbrooke was dissed and marginalized - material sure to elicit a yawn.
Real point is not the realignment. Again, the public wanted that and Obama delivered.
Real point is total lack of care regarding how it went down. Doesn't really cost anything to make a decent effort but it was not made, to the point of marginalizing Clinton as SECSTATE whenever possible.
You get the feeling that Obama is big on control and having himself recognized constantly as the guy in charge and the smartest guy by far, so if foreign policy doesn't matter (after all, he got a Nobel for just being sworn in the first time), then he prefers non-action to any action that isn't attributed solely to his genius.
Cohen uses the word "petty" a lot, which is a sad commentary on Obama.
But the larger truth remains: as long as people feel bad or weak on the economy (and most still do), there's no thought given to foreign policy and Obama knows that.