The world image of American foreign policy throughout most of this century’s first decade was one of use of force, a reliance on hard power, a refusal to talk, and an instinct to go it alone. Whatever the accuracy of this picture, images do matter. When the Obama administration came into town, its foreign policy bumper sticker was “Engagement.” Four years later it is too early to assess final results, but it is clear that the administration’s desire to create a new image and set a new tone for US foreign policy has been only partially successful, that it takes two to get engaged, and that US policy in some places is reverting back to old habits. The United States still confronts the problem of dealing with countries and foreign actors that are major “unengageables.” There are countries or actors that remain on the US foreign policy blacklist and are subject to sanctions and other measures of isolation, including Burma, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and Hamas in Gaza, among others. Other unengageables, which are not subject to
sanctions but nonetheless remain on bad terms with the United States, include Venezuela, North Korea (DPRK), Ecuador, and Bolivia.