Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Good evaluation of Obama and foreign policy

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This evaluation is by Daniel Larison (Ph.D., History), a contributing editor at The American Conservative:

Critics have been belittling President Obama’s recent visit with Latin American leaders as a “contrition” and "apology" tour. But a more accurate tag would be “accountability” tour, and it’s long overdue.

During the Summit of the Americas last week, Obama avoided the hectoring condescension that all too often marked American foreign policy during the Bush years. Instead, he demonstrated that the American case can be made with a combination of humility and accountability. This shift in tone happens to be the best path for improving America’s reputation abroad, and for increasing U.S. influence. In fact, it has already had the effect of reducing tensions with Russia, opening doors for collaboration with alienated allies such as Turkey, and isolating inveterate critics of the United States to the margins of international discourse.

Most controversially, Obama last week met and shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who continues to consolidate his power and tighten control over Venezuelan civil society. Obama also chose not to answer Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s long tirade against U.S. policy. This has led to accusations that Obama has encouraged authoritarian and left-wing leaders in Latin America while discouraging their political opposition. But such complaints fail to grasp that these leaders have always thrived on demonization by Washington.

What is interesting about Obama’s non-confrontational approach to both leaders is that it suggests Obama has learned not to feed the proverbial trolls. On the one hand, Obama has shown a willingness to engage hostile or critical foreign leaders in discussion. But he has also shown no desire to participate in international polemics, perhaps because he has come to see that the U.S. gains nothing from such confrontations. Better still, by largely ignoring the rantings of anti-American zealots, Obama may be able to split persuadable critics of America from those who are reflexively and genuinely anti-American. In an amusing irony, Obama, who is often accused of being an insubstantial rhetorician, has refrained from the long-winded, idealistic bluster on the international stage that his predecessor frequently indulged in. And it may already be paying dividends.

For instance, …

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2009 at 3:13 pm

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