Even as Iran reportedly responded negatively to a deal over its uranium
enrichment program, a bipartisan and international consensus against it
remains strong. After years of division and uncertainty, for the first
time there is clear international agreement that Iran must accept
limits on its nuclear program. American diplomatic leadership on this
issue, absent for the past decade, has brought the world to the closest
point it has been to beginning to rein in Iran’s nuclear program
Senior American and Chinese leaders began two days of high level talks yesterday under the framework of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. In recognition of China’s emergence on the international scene, the Obama administration has expanded the dialogue with China to encompass a whole range of international strategic and economic issues, such as the global economic recession, climate change, and nonproliferation. The Administration has also quietly made clear its larger strategy: that progress on contentious areas such as human rights and democracy promotion, can best be encouraged by engagement on areas where there is agreement – removing the excuses that the last eight years’ policies gave many around the world for ignoring or downgrading genuine US concerns for the freedom and well-being of others. But as the Obama administration is seeking to build a constructive relationship, many conservatives have described China as the next big enemy – using its rise to justify many unnecessary weapons programs, such as the F-22. Conservatives also seem to discount the strategic and economic costs of China adopting a confrontational approach toward the U.S. While the U.S. and China won’t always see eye to eye, the President explained that “that only makes dialogue more important.”
Yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the progressive vision for U.S. foreign policy. Many in the press sought to portray the event as a re-do of the 2008 primary, but the speech demonstrated the opposite – a Secretary in sync with President Obama’s vision, embracing the foreign policy legacies of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy, and applying those legacies to the new realities of the 21st century. After eight years in which non-military tools of foreign policy were neglected, Clinton’s speech marks a shift back to a foreign policy that utilizes all the tools in the tool kit, including diplomacy and development.
Against a backdrop of violence and civilian casualties, the last few days have witnessed strong moves by the Obama administration to complete the move to a counter-insurgency strategy – in the strategy and management of US forces in Afghanistan and in the actions of US allies in Pakistan.
The United States faces few greater challenges than Pakistan – a nuclear power with 170 million people, a weak government and a terrorist safe haven in its Northwest areas. In recent weeks, the government of President Asif Ali Zaradari has faced challenges both from its political opponent Nawaz Sharif and from a civil society movement demanding the reinstatement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. However, the latest incident is another reminder of how dangerous and fragile Pakistan remains. To play a positive role and help stabilize Pakistan, the United States should work to strengthen Pakistani democracy, engage the region in diplomacy, condition security assistance, and increase development assistance.
This week marked the 10th anniversary of NATO’s expansion into the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Their inclusion into NATO helped stabilize the region, consolidate democracy, and firmly put these countries on the path to membership in the European Union. Yet, after eight years of neglect from Washington, the Alliance is struggling to redefine itself to address the challenges of the 21st century.There were important signs this week that efforts to reinvigorate the Alliance are beginning
Fifty days into the new administration, a close examination of foreign
policy shows dramatic changes on three broad fronts, with early table setting
steps giving way to action abroad and at home. Not
everything can or should change overnight, but skeptics' assertions that Obama' foreign policy is a continuation
of Bush's is not supported by the facts.