Mar 30, 2011 Letters
Please allow me to revisit several pieces I wrote on a paradigm shift in American foreign policy from one of imperial conquest to one of humanization, thanks to President Barack Obama.
Imperialist superciliousness from the United States and those with similar profiles, historically, by definition, interfered with poor nations to push them into greater poverty. History sustains the view that poverty stimulates and attracts condescending external dominance; and this was a calculated act by the self-styled munificent rich nations, particularly of the West.
The United States has a persisting track record of external aggression, some covert, some overt, the purpose of which is to dominate other countries’ resources to advance its own national security interests; there are others equally guilty of such behaviors, but the scale of American external dominance has been overwhelming.
Most American Presidents, in their quest to sustain this unique American imperialism, complied with the Senator Beveridge Posture, Truman Doctrine, and Eisenhower Doctrine. But, today, we are beginning to see the emergence of the Obama doctrine, a humanizing approach characterized by an increased weighting toward cultural diplomacy in international relations.
The U.K. newspaper, the Guardian of February 11, 2011, alluded to a shift in Obama’s foreign policy, thus: “In sharply criticising the Cairo government’s prevarications, demanding that it respect universal values, and stressing that his administration stands shoulder to shoulder with the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the US president dramatically changed the way his country does business in the region. This was, to all intents and purposes, the proclamation of an Obama doctrine.”
Last Monday evening, President Obama gave his first speech to the American nation to provide an update for U.S. intervention in Libya. He explained that the U.S. intervention has international legitimacy, broad multilateralism among allies, support from the Libyan opposition and the Libyan people, and the backing of the Arab League.
Obama’s approach to the Libyan intervention is distinct from the traditional American unilateralism, where imperial conquests were a characteristic feature of their external aggression. After Obama’s speech, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, among others, in the true spirit of securing imperial conquests, showed resonance with traditional American unilateralism vis-à-vis calling for ‘regime change’ in Libya vis-à-vis military action.
Obama opposes this line. Let us now examine some of Obama’s earlier efforts toward creating humanization and cultural diplomacy in U.S. international relations.
Then President-elect Obama in a Zakaria interview advanced the notion that world issues and American issues are progressively becoming more interrelated; and it is difficult to delineate a distinction between U.S. domestic policy and U.S. foreign policy; a situation that may require cultural diplomacy and humanization.
Clearly, Obama unlike his predecessor, sees a linked world, and, indeed, unlike Bush, does not divide the world into an axis of evil and an axis of good. Obama takes the view that America should gain knowledge about other countries because they are not monoliths; these countries contain massive diversity and problems.
For these reasons, Obama’s foreign policy hub may incline more toward people’s economic circumstances, civil society, and people’s dignity. And he tosses out Bush’s foreign policy apprehensions with elections and the freedom march in foreign lands because Obama acknowledges that people’s needs – food, shelter, and jobs – should carry greater weighting.
Obama’s paper “Renewing American Leadership” (Foreign Affairs), noted: “…The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity…The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. To see American power in terminal decline is to ignore America’s great promise and historic purpose in the world. If elected president, I will start renewing that promise and purpose the day I take office…”
Clearly, Obama’s philosophy of U.S. foreign policy is in complete non-alignment with imperial conquest, differing significantly from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld drumming that followed the same line of Senator Albert Beveridge’s position in 1898, President Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy for imperialism, the Truman Doctrine in 1947, and the Eisenhower Doctrine in 1957.
Obama does not support the arrogance and ethnocentrism of unilateralism in U.S. foreign policy and U.S, imperial conquests. Obama’s advocacy for refurbishing America’s promise, where the people of the world share a common understanding and a common security, will present to us the defining moments of his foreign policy agenda.
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