And if so, what is it? Or perhaps more precisely, whose? The question comes to mind on a reading of Leslie Gelb's Power Rules, modestly presented as his memo to the next (i.e., current) President. It's an uneven book--a fair amount of pious gasbaggery (you can skip the first chapter), and more than a hint of "and-so-I-told-the-Pope." (although in fairness, his personal anecdotes are mostly on point). But for all its superficial flatulence, there is a fair amount of hard-headed, specific advice.
A key point: a President neeeds a strategy; otherwise he winds up chasing his own tail. It must set goals; and they must be achievable. Truman had strategy: resist the Soviets by pouring money into Western Europe. He kept at it, and it worked. Bush senior had a strategy: ease the transition form Communism. It worked--thanks not least to Bush's skill at coordinating a talented team. Indeed it worked so well that we can hardly understand it in retrospect--hardly imagine how bad things could have gone wrong if it did not work. Bush junior had a strategy: use Iraq to show the world we can promote democracy. But it didn't work, and we wound up back at (or behind) the line of scrimmage.
Gelb credits Nixon and Kissinger with a strategy, but is more than elaborate flaming-plate throw: use China (and the Yom Kippur War, and arms control) to distract attention from the fact that we'd just lost war. Carter may have had a strategy, but nobody has any idea what it was. Clinton probably didn't (and here is an aside: reading Gelb, it occurs to the reader that one problem with Clinton is that he really didn't like to decide anything--much happier in the seminar room, where the discussion can go on foreve)..
Does Obama have a strategy? It is hard to tell. He has a protean vision, which is not quite the same thing. One doubts that his Secretary of State has a strategy--whatever her virtues, grand vision is just her style. If there is a strategy, then, it may emerge from the other visibile player in the foreign policy arena--Joe Biden, who counts perhaps as a natural ally of Gelb's and a natural conduit from the adviser to the advised.