Cowboy diplomacy. Hearts are atwitter now that the days remaining under President Bush’s misguided approach to foreign policy can be counted on one hand. Or one-and-a-half hands. Or two thumbless hands. We can now forget appeals at the UN Security Council for authorization to end cease-fire agreements or formal declarations of war by Congress. Prepare for a return to the halcyon days of aspirin factory bombing and indiscriminate cruise missile strikes. The People’s Republic of China had better harden those embassy assets, pronto.
The headline says it all. Clinton to promise ‘smart power’ renewal of US leadership
Hillary Clinton is set to promise a renewal of American leadership and revitalized diplomacy at her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday for her new job as secretary of state.
The former first lady, who is giving up her post as New York Senator will say she favors the use of “smart power,” transition officials told AFP.This sounds like a monumental change from the “dumb power” utilized under President Bush. Like a bull in a china shop we’ve been these past eight years. Saber-rattling towards PRC after some Red Chinese jet jockey clipped one of our surveillance planes and Beijing held our crew once it was forced to land at Hainan pre-9/11. Forcing Charles Taylor to flee by sending warships steaming to Liberia. It’s been one ham-handed, bullying move after another on the international stage.
You see, the Bush Administration has mistakenly been working harder when it should have been working smarter.
“She will reiterate that she and the president-elect believe that America must be smarter to be stronger,” said a transition official on condition of anonymity.
“Senator Clinton believes in “smart power” — using all the tools of foreign policy that are at our disposal.
“She also believes, as does the president-elect, that diplomacy must be at the forefront of US foreign policy, and that it must be balanced with military power in ways that work for the 21st century.”What a breath of fresh air! Instead of just bombing North Korea and Iran we should have been engaging their rulers while using all the tools at our disposal. The six party talks in SE Asia, the UN Security Council/IAEA resolutions on Iran, aid packages, and sanctions must be hallmarks of dumb power. Let’s hope the new smart power isn’t too smart lest we take unfair advantage of those regimes that have somehow managed to thwart US foreign policy over the past three decades.
Who swallows this “smart power” pabulum? It’s not like everyone in Bush’s State Department is from a work release program at the Virginia State Home for the Bewildered. A lot of conservatives don’t always agree with their goals or methods, but to imply that all the tools of foreign policy have been forsaken is obtuse. If anything, Bush has put too much faith in diplomacy during his second term. We’ve established beyond the shadow of a doubt that Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons. We’re not going to talk them out of it. What we to do to stop them is the only question remaining. The UN is a dead-end. The EU is unwilling to act. If Obama changes their minds my hat’s off to him.
But odds are he won’t. Then what?
Clinton will also make a forceful case for increasing State Department resources to help US diplomats pursue Obama’s pledge for aggressive diplomacy, an official said.
Yet another shovel-ready project. How many of Obama’s cabinet nominees will be making a forceful case for reducing the size of their respective agency? If State’s going to get increased resources shouldn’t Labor? Didn’t Obama pledge for aggressive development of alternative energy too? Lord knows Treasury should be rewarded with increased resources and even more aggressive spending goals.
The campaign is over and it’s time to dispense with trite digs at the outgoing administration. There are very real problems looming around the globe. While it’s not completely unexpected to hear two foreign policy novices like Obama and Hillary! exaggerate their competence by claiming to be arbiters of “smart power”, they’ll soon find US interests don’t mean much to people outside of the US. Smart power may look pretty stupid when they find our so-called allies and enemies continuing business as usual after January 20th.
Obama fed plenty of tough words to voters during the campaign. Now it’s game time. Smack talking only makes you look like a fool if you can’t (or won’t) back it up. He’s never had to make a life or death decision under duress. Joe Biden may only prove right once in his life – Obama will be tested. We can only hope his instincts are correct.
Hillary might ask Bill about charisma and “smart power”. He brought the full brunt of US diplomacy to the bargaining table in the Middle East and left with a second intifada against Israel.