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Why Obama Shook Chavez's Hand - He campaigned on a new approach to diplomacy.

Beneath the attacks on President Barack Obama's performance at recent meetings abroad lie two fundamental questions about American foreign policy. The first is the extent to which Washington should make changing despised leaders of other countries a primary goal. The second is how to use the power of the presidency.

What the chorus of Mr. Obama's critics is ignoring is that the 2008 election was, in part, a referendum on President Bush's policy of regime change and his approach to diplomacy.

Candidate Barack Obama could not have been clearer. He was going to talk to foreign leaders directly whether the United States agreed with their policies or not. And the purpose of this new diplomacy, Mr. Obama emphasized, was not to change regimes around the world but to advance American interests. His opponent, Sen. John McCain, took the opposite view. He wouldn't be seen in the company of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. And as far as Iran was concerned, Mr. McCain would demand that Tehran capitulate on a series of issues as the price for a meeting with the president.

Despite the results of November's election, Mr. Obama's critics are judging him on the basis of the old Bush calculus. Whether it is Venezuela or Cuba, they assess Mr. Obama's actions based on whether or not they immediately contribute to the downfall of a regime. If not, then they go off in high dudgeon.

Worse yet, Mr. Obama's critics are using the same logic that contributed to early failures in Iraq. They say the president's politeness to Hugo Chavez, for example, should be judged by the standards of the Cold War. They point to the fact that dissidents in Eastern Europe were heartened when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." But that truth doesn't always translate to other parts of the world. If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that not all countries respond the same way when a dictator falls. Unfortunately, many heirs to the Reagan tradition haven't learned that policy by analogy is a risky business.

Whether the challenge is Afghanistan, Pakistan or nuclear proliferation, the new administration seems determined not to be distracted by the advocates of regime change or the likes of Hugo Chavez. Instead, the Obama administration has used recent summits in London, Prague and Trinidad as a way to restore respect for the U.S. abroad, and to build the base of support that is necessary to achieve larger goals.

Mr. Obama not only has a different view than Mr. Bush about the ends of U.S. foreign policy, but he has also promised to use different means than his predecessor. Mr. Bush believed that he could extract concessions from recalcitrant governments as the price of admission for dialogue with the U.S. When it came to preventing North Korea from building nuclear weapons, or Iran from developing nuclear technology, the Bush policy failed. Denying direct access to U.S. officials did not compel the governments in Pyongyang or Tehran to reverse course.

Soon enough Mr. Obama's critics will be howling that he is meeting with the leaders of problematic countries with no dramatic concessions to show for it. But again, they will be missing the point. As he made clear during the campaign, the president believes direct diplomacy is a tool in America's arsenal. It is not a prize to be won.

MR. OBAMA'S NEW DIPLOMACY IS WELL-SUITED TO AN ERA OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT AND INSTANT COMMUNICATION. BY REFUSING TO SNUB HUGO CHAVEZ, MR. OBAMA MAKES IT HARDER FOR DICTATORS AND ANTI-AMERICAN ACTIVISTS TO DEMONIZE THE U.S. OF COURSE, NATIONAL SECURITY IS NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST. BUT SINCE GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE WORLD ARE INCREASINGLY DEMOCRATIC, THEY MUST RESPOND TO THE ATTITUDES OF THEIR PEOPLE. A POPULAR AMERICA HAS MORE LEVERAGE AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE ON ISSUES FROM TRADE TO TERRORISM. WHILE REPUBLICAN OPERATIVES MAY DISMISS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING A PRESIDENT THE WORLD ADMIRES, THE FACT IS THAT MR. OBAMA'S POPULARITY BRINGS TANGIBLE BENEFITS WE HAVE LOST OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.

If the president's critics continue to judge him by Bush-era standards of diplomacy and regime change, they are going to have a lot to shout about over the next four years. But the majority of Americans who supported Barack Obama will withhold judgment and give the administration the opportunity to implement its initiatives on climate change, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan and Iran. They may even give the new policies time to work.

By James P. Rubin - adjunct professor at Columbia's School of International Affairs, was an assistant secretary of state under President Bill Clinton.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124061309079054521.html


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Added: Apr-25-2009 
By: smyle
In:
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, News
Tags: Barack Obama, diplomacy, Hugo Chavez,
Views: 8773 | Comments: 68 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 3 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • obama just wanted to smell what they were having for lunch that day.


    Puppet on the strings of our enemies. Nothing more.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • You just proved your idiocy by giving obama credit for posessing these abilities. Or the left in general. Diplomacy is essential I agree. But it is only effective when used wisely and in proper form with given circumstances and people.

      Being as your savior is bowing to those who wish nothing more than to see America fail, with appeasing overtures, he is essentially resonating a tone of submissiveness by America that will be exploited massively by those who hate America.

      Justify your presi More..

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • Carter II, pissing on our real friends and making pals with the likes of Hugo........

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • You're correct. They did pursue Diplomacy and strategic planning. You did however fail to mention that NOT ONE of them ever bowed to any of those mentioned.

      Theres a tremendous difference between showing Diplomatic respect FACING the opposing figure head, versus Diplomacy while your yellow striped backside is facing them.

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • I see your litter of comments scattered about LiveLeak. I hate to give you the attention you so so badly crave. But this attention won't taste so sweet. You need to seek professional care for all that anger you have inside of you. Anger and fear. It dribbles down your ass crack and onto every post you smother with fear. Every complaint you have, every offensive remark you make, every time you put someone down you prove me correct with 1000% accuracy. So, turn off the computer, and answer More..

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • BOO !! lol

      Posted Apr-26-2009 By 

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  • i like this obama guy, the usa needs to change its image to the world ..at leased this guy has the balls to try and get on with the rest of the world instead of bullying small countries to american way of thinking ..i also like this guy cos he is really pissing off the racist cunts of america who wont give him a chance

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • Yet another shit-for-brains that equates opposition to Obama's naive "I can make them nice" Carter-homage to racism....

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • who the fuk do you think you are calling me shit for brains ..this site is for liveleakers to give opinion on world affairs ..its not for ignorant tossers like you to shout your fukin big mouth off ..i dont even know where you are cos you have no flag ..FUKIN GROW UP

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • oh i see i have a thumb down from someone who has a yellow streak down the back..aint got the balls to come out and let me know who you are ..i have a right to type my opinion ..its not even my country and yet the dick heads have a dig ...number 1 has no flag and number 2 has no balls , how can the world take these people seriously

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • the liberals love a bend over president

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • Yea thats right Barry 'Bama. Shake Chavez's hand and get on his good side because the Russians just stationed long range bombers in Venezuela and they could just cut off the oil if they wanted to. The united states is Venezuela's b*tch.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • To the OP. Thanks for this analysis. I feel well informed. I do hope the goal was not to change the minds of those here who will not let go of their old failed ideas. In that, you will always fail. ;) Great post, thanks.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • Sit, lay down, roll over, good dog.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • OBAMA BLOWS THE WORLD'S COK WHILE TRASHING THE USA.WHAT A GREAT LEADER!

    Posted Apr-26-2009 By 

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  • And, as we all know, "new" is always better. Idiot.

    Posted Apr-26-2009 By 

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  • the bacon virus is spreading,,,,,,to be continued

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • "Anti-Obama crowd calls for civil war, blood in the street, and people hanging from telephone poles..."

    Sure they do, and the anti-Bush the last eight years was the model of decorum....

    lol

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • As an American, I don't think Obama's casual attitude towards Chavez does us much harm. But his attitude does do harm to the causes of anti-totalitarian movements in that part of the World. Obama has basically made it appear like we haven't got their back. We probably never did in the first place. But now it's more clear to them than ever. The week after Obama shook Chavez's hand, the leader of Chavez's most prominent opposition party fled Venezuela.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • South American countries know well that the U.S. does not 'have their backs', that U.S. interest in 'helping' them is a temporary thing. There are always anti-totalitarian movements everywhere, but the U.S many times have aided those totalitarian governments to violently crush anti-totalitarian movements. This is a diplomatic gesture that has not changed anybody's world (except for a few selected Americans). If you want to find a meaning to it, let it be 'I want to do things differently'. Perhap More..

      Posted Apr-26-2009 By 

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  • New foreign policy: Not having the mindset of a 15 year old on a schoolyard.

    Old foreign policy: YEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAAW

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • Obama also gave him a BJ!

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • obama oboma is just a laki for the jewish lobby group who has america on its knees, there will be peace with these jewish thugs in power they own the u.s

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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    • How clever...sponsor a candidate like Obama, then have him stab you in the back repeatedly so that no one will suspect that he's REALLY your secret lackey. Brilliant!

      Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • New diplomacy? Looks like a different shade of Jimmy Carter if you ask me.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • This is ridiculous. Obama isn't being judged by "Bush era standards" he's being judged by Carter era standards....

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • ITS OFFICIAL NOW!! the United States is Venezuelas b*tch because the Russians have long range bombers stationed in Venezuela and have to bow down to them just like they do to the Saudi Arabians just to get some oil and a credit line.

    Keep bowing down United States of Amerib*tches.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • Professional. A nice change from the last failed 8 years in the White House.

    Posted Apr-25-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'bs3ac' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Blacks and Mexicans ruling the free world. Two words. Acquire ammo.

    Posted May-24-2012 By 

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