Those who read this blog regularly know that I’m certainly not afraid to be critical of Barack Obama and his administration when it’s warranted. His economic policies scare the hell out of me, and I’m still wondering when he’s going to actually do something different than the Bush Administration with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But in general, I’ve agreed with his foreign policy approach. Its humbleness is quite refreshing, especially when compared to cowboy diplomacy of the previous administration. It’s much better to engage with those you disagree with than to push them away.
When the Far Right threw a temper tantrum at Obama’s shaking hands with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, they showed how little they understand about diplomacy. Bush’s constant bickering about Chavez built Chavez up significantly. Obama instead engaged with Chavez, and consequently diminished him.
The Far Right is again in an uproar over Obama’s words and actions during his Middle East tour. They’re most upset about this line, where Obama said that any nation, including Iran…
…should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
While I naturally can’t know Obama’s true thoughts, my suspicion is that this is a first step in engagement with Iran over nuclear power. Iran is going to develop nuclear power no matter what anyone else does. The last eight years of Bush policy have proven that.
With that being the case, we’re much better off engaging with Iran and keeping a close eye on the situation. I expect Obama will soon offer to help Iran in exchange for international oversight.
In doing so, he will have boxed the Iranian leadership in. If their interests truly are peaceful, they have no reason to reject this offer. If, on the other hand, it’s about building weapons (as we all know it is), the Iranian leadership will expose their hand by rejecting our offer.
And in the process, the world’s perception of America will have improved, while the perception of Iran will have decreased, even within the Middle East.
Obama has moved the first piece. The next few moves should be very interesting.