Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pressing The Reset Button.

It's too early to say that President Obama's foreign policy in in crisis. However the policy of building bridges, engaging and entering dialogue without any conditions, with countries that had fallen out with the USA needs rethinking.

It is one thing to repair some of the silly and pointless rifts that emerged between the USA and some European countries during the Bush administration. However applying this idea towards the likes of Russia and Iran isn't going to work. To present the Russian government with a symbolic reset button implies that the tense atmosphere between Russia and the USA was the result of US actions and had nothing to do with Russia's actions over the last few years.

Similarly his unconditional offer to engage with Iran not only undercut the EU 3 who had been trying to end Iran's nuclear programme with assorted diplomatic sticks and carrots it has also seems to have led the US government to react slowly to the ayatollahs election stealing antics for fear of imposing such preconditions.

The policy seems to have come about as a result of a gaffe in a debate with Hillary Clinton, but because a lot of his party's primary voters could only see foreign policy in terms of domestic politics- by which I mean they assumed that because they didn't like Bush, that any fraught relationships the USA had under his administration must have been the result of his failings- the gaffe became a very popular idea.

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