Opinions vary on the initial reading of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. I tend to view it as misguided, weak and inept. Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post March 9, 2009, that Obama’s foreign policy was “Bushian” because it has changed so little from George W’s time. Anthony Faiola writes in the Washington Post on March 10 that Obama’s trade policy will emphasize global warming and displacement of American workers — using social issues as a reason to promote or slow trade during a global economy Obama has called a “catastrophe”….
Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)
President Obama’s foreign policy team has been working hard to present its policies to the world as constituting a radical break from the Bush years. In the broadest sense, this has been absurdly easy: Obama had the world at hello.
By Robert Kagen
When it comes to actual policies, however, selling the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand — and a helpful press corps. Thus the New York Times reports a dramatic “shift” in China policy to “rigorous and persistent engagement,” as if the previous two administrations had been doing something else for the past decade and a half. Another Times headline trumpeted a new “softer tone on North Korea,” based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that the United States would have a “great openness to working with” Pyongyang — as soon as it agrees to “verifiable and complete dismantling and denuclearization.” Startling.
The Obama administration is aggressively reworking U.S. trade policy to more strongly emphasize domestic and social issues, from the displacement of American workers to climate change.
By Anthony Faiola
Even as world trade takes its steepest drop in 80 years amid the gobal economic crisis, the administration is preparing to take a harder line with America’s trading partners. It will seek new benchmarks before supporting already-written trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea and is suggesting that it will dig in its heels on global trade talks, demanding that other countries make broader concessions first.
“I believe in trade and will work to expand it, but I also know that not all Americans are winning from it and that our trading partners are not always playing by the rules,” Ron Kirk, President Obama’s nominee as U.S. trade representative, said in confirmation testimony last night before the Senate Finance Committee.
The shift underscores the mounting pressures confronting any effort to expand trade during the economic crisis. Even before the global economy went code red late last year, talks aimed at expanding global trade stalled as Western countries warred with emerging giants like China and India over how to further open markets.