Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fatuous "Reset Button" Diplomacy

I had recently posted on Hillary Clinton's ridiculous "rest button" stunt with a top Russian diplomat.

Anne Applebaum goes beyond the stunt itself, and writes about the new thinking in diplomacy under Clinton for the Obama administration. They're going to have to think a little harder.

Nor is this true of Russia alone. Any president can legitimately call for a fresh start in his relations with the world, and none more so than the current American president, who replaces an unpopular predecessor. Sooner or later, however, Obama will also have to make difficult decisions about regimes that oppose U.S. policy for reasons deeper than dislike of George W. Bush. If Russia persists in its occupation of Georgia, do we accept that situation? If Russia uses its energy policy to blackmail Europe, do we go along with that, too?

The rest of the world is no different. It's a fine thing to open diplomatic relations with Iran or Syria—I've always thought it extremely stupid that we have no embassy, and thus no resident intelligence officer, in Tehran—as long as we remember that talking is not a solution: Sometimes more "dialogue" reveals deeper differences. It's also a fine thing for the president to issue greetings on the occasion of the Persian new year, but that might not dampen the popularity of Iran's nuclear program among both adherents and opponents of its current government. What then?

I do realize that these are early days. The traditional, deadly struggle for influence between the State Department and the National Security Council is only just getting under way, and the president has other things on his mind. But the gift of a "reset button," however translated, was not a good beginning. If this administration thinks it can transform America's relationships with Russia or anyone else with the flick of a switch and a change of rhetoric, then it is living in a virtual reality, not a real one.

Do you get the sinking feeling that Obama and Hillary don't know what the hell they're doing? (We already knew that about Joe Biden.) We've grown so used to hearing how intelligent they are, but when it comes to foreign policy they don't seem to have any street smarts or sense.

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