Obama's Same Old, Same Old Foreign Policy?
Obama's Same Old, Same Old Foreign Policy
In this month's Atlantic (Jan-Feb '09) magazine Benjamin Schwarz suggests that Obama's promised "change" may not extend to U.S. foreign policy.
George Bush's second inaugural address--"...the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."
Barack Obama statement in 2006--America "has a direct national security interest" in seeing its economic and political beliefs take hold in other lands"...this country is "called to provide visionary leadership in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good." And a reference to American military "operations to win hearts and minds." And the claim that "the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people."
Madeleine Albright--swaggeringly declared the U.S. as "the indispensable nation...we stand tall and hence see farther."
British diplomat-- "One reads about the world's desire for American leadership only in the United States. Everywhere else one reads about American arrogance and unilateralism."
Dean Rusk reasoned with regard to Vietnam that American "can be secure only to the extent that our total environment is secure."
George F. Kennan By extending it's military and nuclear unbrella over an unstable region historically outside its strategic orbit, America has taken on its most ambitious and far-reaching security obligatons since the late 1940s, thereby committing "a strategic blunder of epic proportions."
Pushing the U.S. led alliance into regions very much in Russia's sphere of influence has understandably antagonized a great power whose cooperation the Obama administration will need if it is to resolve a range of issues--nuclear proliferation, relations with Iran, terrorism, global warming and so forth.
National Intelligence Council report "Global Trends 2025"--
"American dominance will be much diminished...The overwhelming dominance that the United States has enjouyed in the international system...is eroding and will erode at an accelerating pace..."
Schwarz points out that a policy that says America will be safe only when the rest of the world is converted to American ideals breeds a Manichean view of world politics and creates a barrier to diplomacy as in the case of Clinton's policy of expanding NATO into the former Soviet bloc countries and Bush's plan to install missile defenses in Poland to which Russia has objected.
Obama's foreign policy declarations, according to Schwarz are "all but identical to those of every post-Cold War administration. Obama has made it clear that he will not "cede our claim of leadership in world affiars," meaning that he is unwilling to refashion America's foreign policy.
Schwarz goes on to point out that maintaining what the Clinton pentagon called "full spectrum dominance" over allies and potential enemies means that America must spend more on its military than do virtually all other countries combined.
Schwarz concludes that the U.S. would be well-advised to drop it's delusions of world leadership (i.e. dominance, hegemony, imperialism) and "accept and in fact encourage the emergence of a multipolar wywtem of truly independent great powers, which would take care of their own and their regions' security. Such arguments were barely considered. Triumphalists--Democratic and Republican--believed that international politics could in effect be transcended, and that American leadership, like the ever-rising Dow could be sustained indefinitely."
[The above text is a summary and condensation of Benjamin Schwarz's excellent article in the Atlantic magazine.]
Globaloney by Benjamin Schwarz Atlantic Jan-Feb 09
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