Foreign Policy Journal
July 20, 2009
In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which has been widely touted as a sharp break from that of his predecessor’s. Judging from commentary in the media, Obama has ushered in a new age of diplomacy and international engagement. Clinton herself suggested as much.
|The CFR itself is among the prominent means by which these narrow interests perpetuate themselves. Clinton, herself a member, made some telling offhand remarks before beginning her scripted speech.|
But setting aside the platitudes that comprised most of Clinton’s speech and looking closely at her remarks that actually spoke meaningfully towards U.S. policy under the Obama, a different picture emerges, one not of a change of course from Bush but rather of near perfect continuity between the two administrations.
Obama’s foreign policy parallels Bush’s. The train may have switched tracks, but it’s still headed in the same direction.
Take, for starters, the framework Clinton established early on in her speech. “Liberty, democracy, justice and opportunity underlie our priorities”, she said. “Some accuse us of using these ideals to justify actions that contradict their very meaning. Others say we are too often condescending and imperialistic, seeking only to expand our power at the expense of others. And yes, these perceptions have fed anti-Americanism, but they do not reflect who we are.”
See, U.S. foreign policy doesn’t really contradict enlightened rhetoric and declarations of benevolent intent from policy makers. The U.S. isn’t really condescending or imperialistic. It doesn’t really seek only to expand its power at the expense of others. No, these are merely “perceptions”, and false ones. The obvious corollary is that we musn’t change our policies, only work to correct these warped perceptions that cause people to unjustly oppose U.S. actions.
It hardly needs to be said that there’s nothing new about that formula.