This spring I have taught a course called "American Grand Strategy Through Film." I have promised myself -- and threatened my students -- that I would teach this course for years. This year I finally fulfilled that promise/threat, and I have enjoyed it enormously.
President Barack Obama embarks for his Asia trip during an inauspicious season for American diplomacy. Across the board America's bilateral relations with the great powers are at their lowest points since Obama took office in 2009. Our European allies find us unpersuasive, our Asian allies find us unreliable, and Russia and China find us irresolute and inconsistent.
Reassuring anxious allies that there will be no "Asian Crimea" will be the purpose of President Barack Obama's trip across the Pacific starting April 23. No Asian nation wants to forfeit its independence to a new Middle Kingdom, just as no European nation wants to be part of a new Russian empire. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call that we live in a dangerous world of great power revanchism and territorial conflict -- trends that are even more acute in Asia. Rather than "pivot" to any region, the president must make clear that the United States will not make strategic choices that leave its allies at the mercy of regional predators.
Last weekend top economic officials from around the world gathered in Washington for the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. High atop the list of IMF concerns was the U.S. failure to back a painstakingly-negotiated reform to the way the Fund operates. The new approach, which would offer greater voting weight to emerging countries in the developing world, is the subject of a standoff between the U.S. Congress and the White House. The Obama administration attempted to package IMF reform along with aid to Ukraine, but Congress stripped it out late last month.
In refusing to grant a visa to Iran's ambassador-designate to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, President Barack Obama risks complicating his still-delicate diplomatic dialogue with the Iranian regime. He may also raise the ire of other states, including allies, who worry that the incident will be precedent-setting and restrict their own freedom to send their chosen representatives to New York. Nevertheless, Obama's decision was not only correct, it may make his Iran strategy more effective.