Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama Puts an End To Bush's Cowboy Diplomacy in West Point Address

When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Beijing from Shanghai on 24 May and held the Second Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, US President Barack Obama had also presented an important speech day before 22 May at the famous West Point Military Academy. In this speech, President Obama has revealed even more of the new diplomatic thought of Washington --that the United States will still want to maintain its world leadership position; but this will be done through international cooperation and domestic technological innovation, rather than achieving its world leadership status through brute unilateral military force.

In his West Point Academy speech, President Obama said clearly: 'The burdens of this century cannot fall on our soldiers alone. It also cannot fall on US shoulders alone. Our adversaries would like to see America sap its strength by overextending our power. And in the past, we've always had the foresight to avoid acting alone.'

National Security Strategy
We understand that next week, the White House will announce a new 'National Security Strategy'. President Obama's remarks at the US Military Academy at West Point has set the tone not only for its contents, President Obama has also publicly denied former US President George W. Bush's 'cowboy diplomacy.' Since taking office, President Obama has tried to change the course of US foreign policy. President Obama's intention in wanting to burn bridges with the previous government's unpopular foreign policy was most obvious and exhaustive in this speech.

Eight years ago, on the same occasion at the US Military Academy at West Point Commencement ceremony, the then US President George W. Bush announced his 'Bush Doctrine' -- a preemptive unilateral militaristic policy. A year after the former President Bush announced the 'Bush Doctrine', the United States launched the second Gulf war to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein regime without adequate evidence that Saddam processed weapons of mass destruction and without the authorization from the United Nations. However, this war has trapped the US troops to the muddy battlefield with no ability to turn back until today.
The war has led the United States into a passive and isolated circumstance in international arena. The war has further stimulated the anti-US sentiment in the Muslim World. Yet, coincidentally, using the same platform to address the West Point Academy graduates, President Obama announced that the United States would withdraw US troops from Iraq this summer.

China and Other Emerging Powers
Although the United States is still the world's one and only superpower; however the protracted war in Iraq has weakened the US military strength badly. A Columbia University professor and a Harvard University professor have in 2008 co-published a book titled 'The Three Trillion Dollar War.' In this book the writers pointed out that within a period of five years, the military expenditure used in the Iraq War has reached US $670 billion dollars, which was higher than the total 12 years of military expenditure used in the Vietnam War.
Moreover, in 2010 the US military budget has also reached $535 billion. This US military expenditure is more than the rest of the world's total military spending combined. This US military budget has not even included the military allocation of $ 136 billion for use in the present Iraq and Afghanistan War. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted earlier in May that the United States was unable to afford another war in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Bush's 'cowboy diplomacy' has squandered international community's empathy and august toward the United States when the country suffered massive 9/11 terrorist attacks. This 'cowboy diplomacy' also weakened the United States' international influence and its moral legitimacy basis. It made US foreign policy getting out of focus.
Moreover, within a short period of just few years, the US anti terrorist war has distracted this great power's attention to focus on other major issues thus allowing those countries with potential to challenge the US world leadership to quietly emerge and force the United States to accept such new situation in international arena. These newly emerged countries have included countries such as China, India, and Brazil. This new international order has allowed China and other emerging powers to share the speaking voice of the United States, the leading world power in international affairs.

Human and Financial Resources
The present US Government's decision to abandon unilateralism will mean that the United States must rely on the cooperation of international partners to carry out its foreign affairs. The United States must respect international law and order. It is just like what President Obama said in his West Point Academy speech: 'The United States has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation.'

The recent round of global financial crisis has led to the decline in US economy and allowed the economic emergence of many developing countries. With the US military operations overseas continue to consume huge amount of its human and financial resources; and under the combined effect of other important factors, it is indeed to the advantage of US national interest for the United States to opt of multilateral cooperation with other countries. In the process, of course the United States will also have to face some harsh reality.

In dealing with Iranian nuclear weapon issue, the United States is now obliged with the new foreign affairs spirit of President Obama. The United States is now actively working through the United Nations platform to deal with Iran. The United States is trying to include China as it's world partner and seek its cooperation in dealing with Iran. In US Defense Secretary Gates' earlier address, Gates also hinted that if there was a diplomatic option, he would not support the use of force to resolve the Iranian nuclear weapon issue.

Wide Breadth of Subject Contents
The Second China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Beijing is a high-level, large scale bilateral dialogue with wide breadth of subject contents. This dialogue has reflected the degree of attention the United States has put into the same.
If we put this Dialogue under the backdrop of President Obama's new foreign policy and new diplomatic thinking, we can observe that whether we view the Dialogue from the objective reality of international power dynamics, or from the subjective Washington flow of new diplomatic thought, this dialogue has clearly reflected the hard work of the US Government in trying to create a new international cooperation environment.

Maintaining Global Economic Growth
As the world superpower, such effort taken by the United States should be a welcome to the international community. Regardless of whether the inter community has to deal and prevent nuclear proliferation, or has to address global climate change, in maintaining global economic growth, overcoming world poverty, fighting against the threat of extremism, and many other issues that need international cooperation to handle, the world community cannot do without the leadership coming from the United States.
An end to the US 'cowboy diplomacy' is conducive to give birth to a more harmonious international environment.

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