Ken Fireman and Viola Gienger
Wednesday, Nov 5, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama is committed to a foreign policy of intense diplomatic engagement with allies and adversaries alike and an international approach to curb nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
He will move to implement pledges to accelerate the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, build up American forces in Afghanistan and ask allies to play a bigger role in the fight against a resurgent Taliban, advisers say.
Obama, 47, has cast his foreign policy approach as pragmatic rather than ideological, focused on diplomacy and partnerships and not hog-tied to Iraq. He calls it a more modern strategy for the boundary-blind threats of the 21st century.
“To all those watching from beyond our shores, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand,” Obama said in his victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park. “To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you.”
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In a number of areas, there is likely to be continuity with the policies of President George W. Bush.
Obama has described a middle path on China much like Bush’s, seeking expanded contacts while pressing for economic concessions. He has criticized Russia for supporting breakaway Georgian territories while eschewing confrontational measures such as expulsion from summits of the Group of Eight economic powers.
While Obama has promised greater engagement in the search for a Middle East peace, he will likely be forced to wait until both Israelis and Palestinians sort out internal political conflicts.
What much of the world may find surprising about Obama’s foreign policy is that it will mark a far less dramatic shift in substance than many anticipate — because Bush has moved in the same direction during his second term.
Analysts point out that Bush has struck a deal with North Korea to contain its nuclear-arms development effort, accepted the idea of a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, embraced talks with some elements of Afghanistan’s Taliban rebels and contemplated opening a diplomatic outpost in Iran.