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Sounds Familiar to Me

Providing further support for my point that there is less change than meets the eye in the foreign policy of the new administration is this report on remarks delivered by Michelle Fluornoy, the new Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (i.e., the third-ranking official at the Defense Department). According to the reporter, this is what Fluornoy cited in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on April 29 as the six guiding principles of the Obama defense-team:

•  Pragmatism. She told the standing-room-only audience that “we will
put pragmatism first, not ideology.”

•  Constant engagement. Under the Obama team, she said, Washington will
“remain engaged in critical regions,” something she called “absolutely
essential.” ….

•  “Smarter” engagement. The administration will think twice about how
to use the U.S. military and will be “more proactive” on using
America’s soft power tools, meaning things like the diplomatic,
economic development and political assistance arms of the federal
government.

•  International pacts. Flournoy promised Washington will “champion the
rules of law,” including international laws and treaties, while also
“leading the way in adapting international orders.” ….

•  Alliances. She called traditional alliances “absolutely essential,”
and stressed the importance of helping partner nations increase their
own abilities to take care of problems.

• “Whole of government.” “We must recommend that, in many cases,
military power will not be enough to deal with 21st century problems,”
she said.

The report on Fluornoy’s remarks seemed to suggest that she thinks these principles represent a break from those of the Bush administration. But is there a single one of these that a Bush official would contest? I think not. The problem wasn’t that the Bushies didn’t believe in these principles; it was that they didn’t carry them out very effectively. Let us hope that the Obama-ites will do better. Their first 100 days, however, should temper any assumptions that they somehow are more on top of things than the
people they replaced. Have they figured out yet how to say “reset button” in Russian?


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