Thursday, August 02, 2007

Obama's Foreign Policy Isn't Naive, It's Honest


As president, Barack Obama says he’ll undercut Pakistani Pervez Musharraf's power if he fails to round up terrorists in his country. Would this be a good idea? No. Is it refreshing to hear any ideas regarding terrorism? Yes.

Foreign policy experts probably shrieked like scared little girls when they heard Obama’s statement yesterday and rightly so. As with immediately dismantling our military presence in Iraq, terminating Musharraf’s leadership is fraught with many dangers including destabilizing the Indian/Paki nuclear situation and most likely putting an unknown and far more dangerous extremist in charge of Pakistan.

I don’t believe a President Obama would seriously contemplate such a maneuver but it does signal an inherent difference between the senator and Hillary Clinton and that is a new perception of the U.S. in the world.

While Clinton in a more conservative view of the power of the presidency presumably because see witnessed firsthand how a president’s hands can be tied by numerous factors. This is why she refuses to disavow her votes to give Bush authority to invade Iraq and is open to attacking Iran if matters dictate such a response. This makes her seem like Bush-lite, but not because of her hawkish tendencies, but because her views are a muddle of middling foreign policy and cautious diplomacy.

When Obama said last week that he would gladly meet with rogue dictators around the world, Clinton attacked and belittled his comments as naive. Again, a President Obama wouldn’t open up the White House to criminal despots and certainly without hiding the good silver.

What these two major foreign policy comments say about Obama is clear. He’s the candidate of change. Hillary Clinton is not like Bush, but she does represent how things were done in the past.

George H.W. Bush and Hillary’s husband Bill never figured out our role in the world post-Cold War and W. screwed it up post-9/11. The Hillary Clinton train to the White House may be too formidable for any candidate. Most Democrats would welcome it, but deep inside we wish for change.

When Obama says he’ll talk to leaders of Iran, North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela he’s not telling those leaders to pick a date and wear something nice, but he is saying to us that there will be dialogue instead of silence. This is how all of us deal with each other interpersonally, why should leaders of nations be different?

When he speaks of Musharraf, he’s saying he won’t dupe us by taking a war outside the scope of the mission. If the initial problem is wiping out al-Qaeda then we will fight where they are; in Afghanistan and the mountains of Pakistan and not in Iraq where our actions fomented an explosion of membership to our enemy.

Obama took a hit for his comments last week and probably for yesterday’s. The media lead by Clinton’s attack dogs cast Obama in a naive light, but the subtext of his ideas resonate with the electorate.

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