Foreign Policy Changes Direction

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 29, 2009 | Go to article overview

Foreign Policy Changes Direction

Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Obama has dramatically shifted the tone of U.S. foreign policy in his first 100 days in office, apologizing for what he views as past misdeeds and reaching out to longtime adversaries.

So far, there are few concrete achievements, and critics say the president has been too quick to embrace foes such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Others say the U.S. image abroad has improved significantly and established a basis for future progress.

Already it is clear that Mr. Obama's foreign-policy agenda is ambitious and his worldview very different from that of his predecessor.

If the defining phrase of former President George W. Bush was, If you are not with us, you are against us, Mr. Obama has made it clear that, in his eyes, the United States has no permanent enemies, that most conflicts have shades of gray and that other countries, like the U.S., have the right to act in their own interests.

The question now is whether countries such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela will reciprocate his overtures and change policies that have hurt the United States and it allies.

President Obama has made an impressive start in changing America's image and the goals and concepts that shape the operational realities of its national security strategy, said Anthony H. Cordesman, a longtime foreign policy and military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He also took a series of actions that demonstrated that he was far more of a pragmatist and realist than President Bush, far less ideological, and far more committed to proactive diplomacy, Mr. Cordesman said. While any lasting change depends on his successes in the years that follow, a range of polls show that President Obama was able to reverse much of America's lost prestige and popularity in a matter of months.

Mr. Cordesman pointed out, however, that changes in substance are a different issue, and they are not likely to take place at least until a year into Mr. Obama's tenure, when he can present his first true budget to Congress.

Meeting Chavez

Mr. Obama has sparked some controversy among U.S. conservatives by talking publicly about past U.S. mistakes on overseas trips. He has also gone out of his way to appear sensitive to other cultures and traditions.

Freedom and democracy - whose promotion was a cornerstone of Mr. Bush's policies - have not been a priority, and Mr. Obama has hardly mentioned either, except in reference to Cuba. Mr. Obama, who recently lifted restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba and sending money there, indicated that the Cuban government would have to do something on the democracy and human rights front before the U.S. would lift the trade embargo in place for more than half a century.

During the recent Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, Mr. Obama acknowledged the broad applicability of freedom and democracy, but also said that other countries have different cultures, different perspectives, and are coming out of different histories.

If we are practicing what we preach, and if we occasionally confess to having strayed from our values and our ideals, that strengthens our hand - that allows us to speak with greater moral force and clarity around these issues, he said.

At that summit, Mr. Obama had friendly exchanges with - and shook hands with - Mr. Chavez, who has had a strained relationship with Washington and called Mr. Bush the devil at the United Nations in 2007.

Some Republicans responded with anger.

It sends a terrible signal to all of Latin America and a terrible signal about how the new administration regards dictators, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Fox News. I don't think there is any downside to talking to him, but I think being friends, taking a picture that clearly looks like they are buddies, hurts in all of Latin America. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Foreign Policy Changes Direction


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.