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Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:02 AM

Obama's Inaugural: A New Foreign Policy?

Obama's Inaugural: A New Foreign Policy?

Robert Dreyfuss

Let’s allow ourselves to hope, or imagine, for a moment that Barack Obama’s second inaugural address opens the door to a new American foreign policy...his speech was not a foreign policy address...But in two crucial paragraphs, there was no saber rattling, and his praises of our troops and their courage, and of America’s battle against “fascism and communism,” seemed, to me at least, perfunctory....And in a line that could be read as a signal to current adversaries, including Iran, Obama suggested that in the past, former enemies became “the surest of friends.” Here’s the text of that paragraph:

<...>

But it is the following paragraph that could be a harbinger of a sane, non-Pentagon-centered foreign policy, namely, one build on uplifting the economic security and peaceful well-being of people around the globe. He stressed that America will “try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully,” but he then added: “We must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice—not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.”

Is it possible to imagine an American foreign policy build on “human dignity and justice” across the globe? Here’s Obama’s full text:

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice—not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

That, to me, ought to be the absolute core of a new US foreign policy. Not finding small and medium-size enemies, whether impoverished nations such as Iran or mini-threats such as the Algeria-Mali Islamists, and by attacking them creating big ones; not by riling up gigantic rivals such as China by “pivoting” toward Asia and the Pacific with our air force and navy. Instead, by organizing the world’s attention on urgent needs, such as clean drinking water, vaccination, healthcare clinics, sustainable economic growth, and other achievable goals that, according to countless analysts, could be bought and paid for worldwide at just a fraction of what we now spend on what we euphemistically call “defense.”

http://www.thenation.com/blog/172340/obamas-inaugural-new-foreign-policy

President Obama puts his stamp on global development (foreign policy isn't war)
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022223604

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Reply Obama's Inaugural: A New Foreign Policy? (Original post)
ProSense Jan 2013 OP
pampango Jan 2013 #1
ProSense Jan 2013 #2
ProSense Jan 2013 #3
ProSense Jan 2013 #4

Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:27 AM

1. "...no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world..."; "We will support democracy from

Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice—not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice."

It is reminiscent of FDR's inaugural address in 1945:

We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.

We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that "The only way to have a friend is to be one."

We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/fdr-fourth-inaugural/

And of course it reminds one of JFK's inaugural adress in 1961:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge -- and more.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support -- to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkinaugural.htm

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Response to pampango (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:35 AM

2. Thanks for that. Here's a great point:

We will wait and see, of course, what happens once the scaffolding and the bunting come down, bearing in mind always the scriptural caution about faith without works being dead. But, for an afternoon, anyway, a Democratic president reclaimed the language of freedom from those for whom it means merely lower taxes and more guns. He reclaimed government as a manifestation of a country's aspirations, and not as an anchor on its progress. And he refuted, with precision and neatly camouflaged contempt, many of the most destructive ideas that have poisoned out politics for nearly four decades now. He did nothing less than redefine patriotism in a progressive way. That is already bothering all of the right people. This, I tell you, is what gives me hope.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Why_The_Speech_Was_Important


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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:15 AM

3. Kick! n/t

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:01 AM

4. One almost gets

the impression that new directions aren't welcomed, just ankle-biting.

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