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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/17/09

Overcoming Pottery Barn Foreign Policy

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After six months as President, Barack Obama has put his own imprint on US foreign policy. That's fortunate because George Bush broke everything he touched.

Obama is collaborative; Bush was confrontational. Drawing upon his experience as a community organizer, Obama looks for areas of agreement between the interests of the United States and those of other nations. "The United States and Russia have more in common than they have differences."

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Bush's signature foreign policy doctrine was preemptive war. "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." Bush's "axis of evil" speech led to the invasion of Iraq and, if that war had played out as expected, would have resulted in the invasion of Iran and other military adventures.

Obama is a realist; Bush was an idealist. Over the past few decades, Democrats have been accused of quixotic foreign policy subscribing to the "one world, one global community" philosophy while Republicans have been pragmatic Henry Kissinger introduced the concept of realpolitik to Richard Nixon, leading to the normalization of relations with China. However, the Bush Administration returned to cold-war politics based upon dogmatic ideology: US military prowess would produce free markets inexorably followed by capitalism and Christianity.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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