Fareed Zakaria Praises Obama's Mideast Foreign Policy 'Restraint'

CNN foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria – who has recently had off-the-record conversations with President Obama on foreign issues – noted the president's "restraint" in his dealing with the "Arab Spring" and the conflict in Libya Wednesday. Zakaria previously gave a thumbs-up for Obama's Mideast speech in May and later defended the president's plan for removing American troops from Afghanistan.

The point-of-note is that this is the same analyst whom, according to the New York Times, President Obama "sounded out" while shaping his foreign policy. The two simply had "off-the-record" conversations on foreign issues, according to Zakaria, and the CNN host claimed he was not an advisor to the President.

However, he continuing doling out good grades to the administration's foreign policy Wednesday on the blog for his CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS. He insisted the Obama administration "is more realist than people are willing to acknowledge" in its dealings with the Middle East. The analyst then gave a rundown of the administration's foreign policy toward certain Mideast countries, highlighting certain points for praise.

The foreign affairs analyst was positive toward Obama's cautious approach with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, framing it as an "incremental" policy focused on the "long-run."

Zakaria also defended Obama's controversial military action in Libya, deeming it "carefully-calculated" and "incremental." Overall, Zakaria lauded Obama's Mideast policy as an "appropriately practical approach," seeming to fend off attacks on the administration's policy by claiming that its fruits will come about in the long-term.

It was this paragraph in the May 11 edition of the Times that broke the news of Zakaria's conversations with the president:

At night in the family residence, an adviser said, Mr. Obama often surfs the blogs of experts on Arab affairs or regional news sites to get a local flavor for events. He has sounded out prominent journalists like Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine and CNN and Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist at The New York Times, regarding their visits to the region. "He is searching for a way to pull back and weave a larger picture," Mr. Zakaria said.

However, that news which circulated around the internet still raises questions every time Zakaria comments on Obama's foreign policy. How much information did he share, and what perspective did he provide Obama? Did it in any way lend to his overall positive critique of the president's foreign policy speeches?

To read Zakaria's entire blog post, click here.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014