President Obama begins his second term in office facing a world in turmoil and a number of critical challenges to global security and stability.
In response to these and a host of other international crises, the president can choose to place some “Big Bets” that could define his foreign policy over the next four years. However, a number of “Black Swans” –low probability, but high-impact events –may derail President Obama’s second term foreign policy agenda. Brookings’s Foreign Policy experts have released a set of 20 memos to the president—Big Bets and Black Swans: A Presidential Briefing Book—offering innovative policy recommendations that the administration might pursue.
Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy; Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy; and Tamara Wittes, Senior Fellow and Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy discuss some of these Big Bets and Black Swans, including turning Tehran away from nuclear weapons and a potential collapse of the Camp David Treaty between Egypt and Israel.
[U.S.] is not [sending] a unified message [on North Korea]: It is the leaders of two different departments pursuing two distinctive approaches, which contradict each other. Treasury believes that squeezing China [and penalizing Chinese banks and firms] will compel China to turn up the heat on North Korea. I am not at all convinced that this will generate the responses from China that the U.S. wishes to see. Contrarily, State [Department] sees heightened cooperation with China as essential to curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile activities. The U.S. should not be imparting mixed messages to Pyongyang, and the Trump administration has exhibited very little message discipline in its North Korea policy.