Insights to Obama's foreign policy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-02-17

In his February 7 speech at the 45th Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Joseph Biden gave the world a glimpse of the new US foreign policy that will emanate from the Barack Obama White House.

The following quotes from Vice President Biden’s Munich speech showcase the new US foreign policy shifts.

1. “I come to Europe on behalf of a new administration determined to set a new tone in Washington, and in America’s relations around the world. That new tone — rooted in strong partnerships to meet common challenges — is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”

2. “Even as we grapple with an economic crisis, we must contend with a war in Afghanistan now in its eighth year, and a war in Iraq well into its sixth year. And we must recognize new forces shaping this young century: The spread of mass destruction weapons and dangerous diseases; A growing gap between rich and poor; Ethnic animosities and failed states; A rapidly warming planet and uncertain supplies of energy, food, water; The challenge to freedom and security from radical fundamentalism.”

3. “In meeting these challenges, the United States will be guided by this basic principle: There is no conflict between our security and our ideals.”

4. “America will not torture. We will uphold the rights of those we bring to justice. And we will close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Tough choices lie ahead. As we seek a lasting framework for our common struggle against extremism, we will have to work cooperatively with nations around the world — and we will need your help. For example, we will be asking others to take responsibility for some of those now at Guantanamo. Our security is shared. So, too, is our responsibility to defend it.”

5. “We are willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation; abandon your illicit nuclear program and support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives. Second, we will strive to act preventively, not preemptively to avoid wherever possible a choice of last resort between the risks of war and the dangers of inaction. We will draw upon all the elements of our power — military and diplomatic; intelligence and law enforcement; economic and cultural — to stop crises before they start. In short, we will recapture the totality of America’s strength, starting with diplomacy.”

6. “In the near term, we must consolidate the cease-fire in Gaza by working with Egypt and others to stop smuggling and developing an international relief and reconstruction effort that strengthens the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas. Neither of these goals can be accomplished without close collaboration among the United States, Europe and our Arab partners. Then, we must lay the foundation for broader peacemaking efforts. It is past time for a secure and just Two State solution. We will work to achieve it, and to defeat the extremists who would perpetuate the conflict. And, building on the positive elements of the Arab Peace initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia, we will work toward a broader regional peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

7. “No strategy for Afghanistan can succeed without Pakistan. We must all strengthen our cooperation with the people and government of Pakistan, help them stabilize the Tribal Areas and promote economic development and opportunity throughout the country.”

8. Our administration has set ambitious goals to increase foreign assistance - To cut extreme poverty in half by 2015; To help eliminate the global education deficit; To cancel the debt of the world’s poorest countries; To launch a new Green Revolution that produces sustainable supplies of food and; To advance democracy not through its imposition by force from the outside, but by working with moderates in government and civil society to build the institutions that will protect freedom. We also are determined to build a sustainable future for our planet — and we are prepared to lead by example. America will act aggressively against climate change and in pursuit of energy security with like-minded nations.”

9. “We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the United States will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognize a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. But the United States and Russia can disagree and still work together where our interests coincide.”

For sure, the new US foreign policy will impact on US-Philippine relations, especially with the ever growing threat of China’s encroachment into US interests in the Pacific. Yet to be seen is how Obama will pursue US interest to promote a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

It is a new United States of America that we see today — totally divorced from the George W. Bush “You are either with us or against us” arrogant foreign policy. The reckless adventurer of yesterday has transformed into the partnership seeker of today.

Chastised by its military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, humbled by the sub-prime crisis that spawned a financial meltdown, advised by its own National Intelligence Council that its empire is fading – we now see a US that is desperately rebuilding alliances to deter the looming Russo-Sino domination.

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