President Obama has made this point before, but my sense is that he let a little more of his true feelings come out during his one-on-one with Candy Crowley.
Responding to Crowley's question about whether he was naive and letting countries like Iran and Russia "roll him", Obama responded firmly.
From the transcript:
So, this was said about Mr. Putin, for example, three or four months ago. There was a spate of stories about how he was the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other. And, right now, he's presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis, and a huge economic contraction.
That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America. There is this knee-jerk sense, I think, on the part of some in the foreign policy establishment that shooting first and thinking about it second projects strength.
I disagree with that. We have been very firm with respect to those countries that we think are violating international law or are acting against our interests. But I have been consistent in saying that where we can solve problems diplomatically, we should do so.
You look at an example like Iran, over the last year-and-a-half, since we began negotiations with them, that's probably the first year- and-a-half in which Iran has not advanced its nuclear program in the last decade.
There are two parts here. Crowley's questionfelt incredibly condescending, particularly when taken in context with other questions repeatedly framing the President as naive and stupid. But more to the point, there is hard evidence that the policy decisions Obama has made are actually working.
Russia's economy is so close to collapse that people are stockpiling buckwheat. John McCain can deny this all day long and give the Saudis credit for causing oil prices to drop, but he's the naive one. Sanctions do work. Ask Iran, who is desperate to climb out from under theirs.
Iran is negotiating, and there was enough progress to extend the deadline for an agreement into July, 2015.
These are real milestones, just like the agreement with China on climate change. They're brought about by changing how we operate from warmongering fools to more nuanced diplomacy. It might not make for a great sound bite, but it's far better policy than invading sovereign nations.