I've just put together a trio of podcasts that serve as an excellent introduction to exactly what the Obama administration is up to in the Middle East. All were taken from the presentations at a recent Black Coffee Morning that ECFR's MENA programme hosted in ECFR's London office.
1. Jeremy Shapiro on why US foreign policy is driven by US domestic politics: “The President was in fact insulated against the kind of traditional charge that Republicans have levelled against Democrats, that they are weak and that they refuse to stand up to threats. But all of this has changed since the beginning of the second term.”
2. Professor Juan Cole on why President Obama was caught off-guard by events in the Middle East: “My own take on Mr Obama is that he is from Hawaii.”
3. Ambassador Charles Freeman on the lack of a strategy underpinning US foreign policy in the Middle East region: “It was really a lurch into the unwanted and the unexpected by the President. Remember he was asked at the beginning, 'What are we going to do about this?” And he very intelligently said, 'We don't have a strategy yet.'”