Monday, April 6, 2009

Hope in Eastern Europe

President Obama seems to be reaching out to two different audiences in the final part of his European trip, in which he made stops in the Czech Republic and Turkey. He is trying to build bridges to parts of the world that may have felt neglected by prior administrations. In Turkey, he made a point of telling the Moslem world that the United States is not at war with Islam. In Prague, he spoke of the hope of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Instead of the single-minded focus on adversaries such as Al Qaeda, Iran or North Korea, Obama is reaching out to countries that might be considered the undecided voters of the world, countries which have sometimes shown hostility to the United States, but which also have interests that are often aligned with ours. These are the kinds of places where there is an opportunity to promote good will toward the United States, and where increased good will could be tremendously helpful in the future.

To the extent Americans are paying attention to the European trip, I think President Obama is also demonstrating to Americans that the world is a much more complicated and interesting place than past administrations may have led us to believe. We have certainly moved away from the Cold War black and white world that existed during the days of the Soviet empire. We are also moving away from the terrorists vs. democracies, or "you're either with us or against us" view of the world promoted by the Bush administration. Places like the Czech Republic and Turkey cannot and should not be so easily categorized as friend or foe. Right now we just need to recognize the importance of these countries, and listen to their concerns, without being so quick to label them.

4 comments:

  1. Obama withdrew support of SDI from the Czech prime minister who fought his own people and the Russians and this was a huge reason why his government fell in a no confidence vote a few days ago... so there is no Czech prime minister right now.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123791707120427401.html

    Bush and the Czech prime minister negotiated use of their land to host an SDI radar site and because Obama decided to probably "give" that to Russia in exchange for their "help" on Iran he undermined years of hard diplomatic work.

    Probably one of the biggest screw ups by a U.S. president in decades.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=322700198494921

    Obama damaged the trust other nations put in our government when it comes to sticking their necks out politically.

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  2. Thanks for including the links. I'm not sure they support what you are saying, however. The Wall Street Journal story says that the fall of the Czech government is "entirely" a matter of internal Czech politics. And the IBD story mentions that Defense Secretary Gates told the Poles a year ago (i.e., during the Bush administration) that if the Iranians did not develop a missile program, there would be no need for these anti-missile sites.

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  3. Sorry for the wrong link. The link I used in my article is not working for me but it can be found here:

    http://harrisonprice.com/2009/03/09/if-this-is-how-obama-treats-our-friends/

    And those "internal" politics had mainly to do with missile defense:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10563655

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  4. Nice post! I agree that the listening and sharing Obama has done on this trip will reap tremendous future fruits.
    I'll continue to follow your blog, now that I'm aware of it!

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