Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Excellent Adventure

President Obama's visit with Latin American and Caribbean leaders this past week looks to have been quite successful, Republican sniping notwithstanding. By engaging those leaders instead of threatening them, Mr. Obama has signalled a significant change in US foreign policy, something for which the entire world should be grateful. I would have graded the trip an unqualified success if the President hadn't acknowledged the petty complaints of the GOP by toning down the implications of some of the openness he showed some of those Latin American leaders.

From the NY Times:

Mr. Obama, wrapping up a four-day swing through Latin America that included a summit meeting of Western Hemisphere leaders here, said he believed he had paved the way for “frank dialogue” with countries like Venezuela and Cuba, countries whose relations with the United States are, respectively, strained and practically nonexistent.

But, speaking at a news conference here, the president also sought to calibrate his message more finely, aware that his gestures to those nations may not sit well back at home. He said he has “great differences” with Mr. Chávez and insisted that freedom for the Cuban people would remain the guiding principle of his foreign policy.

President Obama does not have to justify each move he makes in foreign policy, especially if the moves are designed to at least open the door to more substantive discussions with countries we have ignored and insulted for the past eight years. And he does not have to take seriously the complaints of such Republican luminaries as Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) whose foreign policy expertise is grounded in a heavily guarded trip to a Green Zone bazaar for the purchase of inexpensive rugs for his office.

That aside, however, the president did make an important statement about what he learned during the trip:

Mr. Obama said he did learn some things during his time here. He said he was struck by the way other nations spoke of Cuba’s medical diplomacy; with 12 medical schools, the country turns out well-trained doctors that it sends throughout the region to provide health care in impoverished areas.

“It’s a reminder for us in the United States,” Mr. Obama said, “that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction, if our only interaction is military, then we may not be developing the connections that can, over time, increase our influence.”

Exactly so, Mr. President, exactly so.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Legalize iT!

6:16 AM  
Anonymous larry, dfh said...

As we all know, the mob and the agency (sorry about the redundancy)don't want friendly relationships with Cuba and Venzuela, not until they get thir cut. We all must realize, as does Obama, that they very persuasive arguments.

8:48 PM  

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