"Smart Power" And The End of American Exceptionalism
by Charles Lemos, Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 06:58:52 PM EST
There were two very telling quotes by Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton during today's Senate confirmation hearings as to the nature of foreign policy under an Obama Administration.
``We must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians.''
By "smart power" Senator Clinton means that the United States should be using all the tools of foreign policy that are at our disposal. In this regard the Obama Administration will pursue engaged, cooperative American global leadership consistent with the nation's democratic values and not rely on military might alone. This will mean reaching out to create stronger more broad-based partnerships with our allies as well as working to forge new bonds with foes such as Iran and Syria. An Obama foreign policy will seek to invest in "our common humanity as a way to achieve greater security." It is a marriage of principle and pragmatism and yet it is not overtly ideological. This is also a recognition that the neo-liberal "Washington Consensus" has failed. Instead of pushing market-based solutions to every problem, it seems that American foreign policy will take a wider approach to dealing with global problems.
The second quote is also rather telling. It is an implicit recognition of the limits of American power and that the neo-conservative approach of American exceptionalism has been a dismal failure. It is a return to a more realist approach to foreign policy. It is also a recognition that we live in a multi-polar world.
``America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America. The best way to advance America's interest in reducing global threats and seizing global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. This isn't a philosophical point. This is our reality.''
What also seem evident today, apart from David Vitter's pettiness, is a more bipartisan approach to foreign policy. Thus it is no wonder that Senator Lugar would call Clinton "the epitome of a big leaguer.''