Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Embolden U.S. Foreign Policy Obama Should Take More Risks for Peace in His Second Term

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Embolden U.S. Foreign Policy Obama Should Take More Risks for Peace in His Second Term

Article excerpt

The changing of the guard at the Department of State, along with President Barack Obama's having won what will probably be his last election, should mean that America will have a less cautious, more forward-leaning foreign policy in Mr. Obama's second term than it did during his first.

There has been little criticism of outgoing Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton for a variety of reasons. One was the courageousness of both Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton in working more or less in tandem after having duked it out so vigorously during the 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Second was the hard work that Ms. Clinton so clearly put in. Trips to 112 countries, ceasing only when she fell and hit her head, were clear evidence of her attentiveness in minding the traps.

On the other hand, even Steve Kroft, the pitty-pat interviewer in the joint appearance Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton made Sunday night on the TV show "60 Minutes," noted correctly that there had been "no big, singular achievement" for the two to hang on the wall after their four years of working together on America's foreign policy. (Ms. Clinton didn't shoot Osama bin Laden.)

Mr. Obama claimed Libya. It would be hard to miss the demise of Moammar Gadhafi, but claiming Libya as a major success is a stretch given the mess it has become. Various diplomatic missions have now closed in Benghazi because it is too dangerous. The recent raid into Algeria that resulted in the deaths of 37 foreign hostages almost certainly came through a lawless Libya.

America's foreign policy under Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton could be described as "nothing ventured, nothing gained." There was a good reason, although it was more personal in basis than rooted in what was best for America.

That reason was that both were future candidates for office. Mr. Obama faced reelection in 2012. Ms. Clinton was protecting her option to run for president in 2016. Neither was prepared to run the risk of tackling the big issues that, if resolved, would have won them trophies on America's foreign policy wall. The truth of that is revealed in the success of President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in opening China. Mr. Nixon's name is blackened by the Watergate scandal and his resignation. Mr. Kissinger's reputation is marred by his manifestations of ego, the bombing of Cambodia and the self-serving lies in his books. But both are generally cited admiringly for their work on China.

Perhaps Mr. Obama's second-term foreign policies will be bolder and more inventive. Mr. Obama has been reelected. Ms. Clinton can do what she likes with respect to future presidential elections. …

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