U.S. Foreign Relations 2010

Written by  //  December 16, 2010  //  Foreign Policy  //  1 Comment

(Foreign Policy): How Does the U.S. Decide Which Governments to Recognize?
It tries not to.
Leaders of G-20 Vow to Reshape Global Economy
NYT WikiLeaks State’s secrets
WikiLeaked is FP‘s blog dedicated to sorting through the more than 250,000 State Department cables acquired by WikiLeaks as they are gradually made public.
Spiegel’s full coverage of WikiLeaks Diplomatic cables
More on WikiLeaks on this site

Holbrooke: Astride the Khyber Pass
(Foreign Policy) Why, when it comes to U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, replacing Richard Holbrooke will be nearly impossible.
Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies
Longtime U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke — who brokered peace talks that ended war in Bosnia, and was trying to do the same in Afghanistan and Pakistan — died Monday from complications arising from surgery. Holbrooke was 69. His career in foreign service included a stint as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His death could have serious implications on U.S. efforts to administer the war in Afghanistan, which relies greatly on diplomacy and various forms of aid. The Washington Post (12/14) NYT Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis; Nicholas Kristof: Richard Holbrooke, RIP
The Not So Quiet American
(Spiegel) Richard Holbrooke wasn’t just President Barack Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan, he was the embodiment of US foreign policy — with all its strengths and weaknesses. Washington is mourning his death. Not exactly a whole-hearted tribute
Cleo Paskal — WikiLeaks: New Zealand Sells Itself as “a more Pacific country” than Australia – And As Key to Pacific Security. US Buys It.
WikiLeaks has given New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times 1,490 diplomatic cables from the United States’ Wellington Embassy. To date, only a few of those cables have been publicly released. However, they clearly indicate an increasingly close relationship between New Zealand and the U.S., as well as an increasing reliance by the U.S. on New Zealand when it comes to Pacific security issues.
While a closer relationship is desirable, given the growing importance of the Pacific in global affairs, primary reliance on New Zealand to guide the way in the Pacific is not sufficient and leaves the region vulnerable to outside influences and internal instability.
(Stratfor) Taking Stock of WikiLeaks
Julian Assange has declared that geopolitics will be separated into pre-“Cablegate” and post-“Cablegate” eras. That was a bold claim. However, given the intense interest that the leaks produced, it is a claim that ought to be carefully considered. … U.S. diplomats come away looking sharp, insightful and decent. While their public statements after a conference may be vacuous, it is encouraging to see that their read of the situation and of foreign leaders is unsentimental and astute.
6 December
Spokespersons of US Right ‘In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant’

Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski says that US diplomacy will continue as before despite the leak of diplomatic dispatches by WikiLeaks. He spoke with SPIEGEL about how US President Obama should react and how the American right sees the world.
Diplomats’ work hobbled by revelations
(The Independent) The US government is being forced to undertake a major reshuffle of the embassy staff whose work has been laid bare by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
5 December
Tom Friedman: The Big American Leak
Fifty years ago, the world was shaped in a certain way, to promote certain values, because America had the leverage to shape it that way. We have been steadily losing that leverage because of our twin addictions to Middle East oil and Chinese credit — and the WikiLeaks show just what crow we have to eat because of that. I know, some problems — like how we deal with a failing state like Pakistan that also has nukes — are innately hard, and ending our oil and credit addictions alone will not solve them. But it sure would give us more leverage to do so — and more insulation from the sheer madness of the Middle East if we can’t.
John Bolton: WikiLeaks cables: Barack Obama is a bigger danger
WikiLeaks harms the US. But the president’s refusal to acknowledge the threats we face is a bigger danger
(The Guardian) … Unfortunately, the administration has acted consistently with its demonstrated unwillingness to assert and defend US interests across a wide range of threats, such as Iran and North Korea, which, ironically, the leaked cables amply document.
4 December
Cables Depict Range of Obama Diplomacy
Mr. Obama’s style seems to be: Engage, yes, but wield a club as well — and try to counter the global doubts that he is willing to use it.
1 December
David Jones: WikiLeaks document deluge remains a diplomatic, public relations disaster, says former diplomat
Forewarned is forearmed, but however useful the ‘forearming,’ WikiLeaks releases were a nasty body blow.
It is not a question regarding whether foreign officials will talk with U.S. diplomats—talk yes, but trust? WikiLeaks may be forgiven, but hardly forgotten.
18 November
Richard Haas: American Foreign Policy After the Mid-Term Elections
(Council on Foreign Relations) … the fact that foreign policy did not materially affect the November elections does not mean that the results will not affect US foreign policy. They will, but in ways that are inconsistent and even surprising.
17 November
Obama’s India Trip To Help Boeing, GE; China Seen As “Invisible Bear”
(Forbes) President Obama delivered on most counts, though some critics said that he played to the gallery offering India nothing more substantial than a ticket to Mars!
8 November
Obama endorses India for U.N. Security Council seat
(WaPost) President Obama endorsed India’s desire for a permanent seat on an expanded U.N. Security Council, a symbolic gesture sure to cement the goodwill he earned on a visit here this week but equally likely to trouble neighboring China and Pakistan. (The Economist) Song-and-dance partners
14 October
Canada lost UN seat because it lacked U.S. support: ex-spokesman
(National Post) The Obama administration is facing accusations it snubbed Canada in its quest for a United Nations Security Council seat by failing to campaign on behalf of its northern neighbour.
5 August
Charles G. Cogan: “Deadlines ‘R’ Us”
(Op-Ed, The Huffington Post) …President Obama is adhering to a deadline in Iraq agreed to by his predecessor, and on the other he has set his own deadline for Afghanistan; in a certain way, the former deadline becomes associated with the latter deadline and acts as a ‘cover’ for the latter…which is to say, if American troops can be withdrawn from Iraq, why can they not also be withdrawn from Afghanistan? … Those who decried the late 2009 juxtaposition of surge and withdrawal as contradictory and naïve might give it a second thought. Perhaps it was not such a dumb idea after all.

One Comment on "U.S. Foreign Relations 2010"

  1. Guy Stanley November 21, 2010 at 9:13 am · Reply

    The speech reminds its audience of Canada’s shared “values” with the US, underlines Canada’s capacity as a gas station in the current price/technology environment and offers encouragement about President Obama’s impact on improving the political image of the US in the post-GW Bush era. He then reminds his audience of the importance of the continued deepening of Canada-US economic integration and Trans-Pacific trade liberalization before turning to three other substantive issues: the trade imbalance with China and its currency, Iran and the position of the Camp Ashraf refugees and Afghanistan and confronting the menace of Afghanistan’s return to Taliban rule. These are interesting points, but the comments at the top of the speech are the ones that touch on the deeper issues , e.g. “To be sure, a major foreign policy rethink is long overdue and I agree with Jeffrey Sachs that there has been an unfortunate bi-partisan consensus in your country for too long that America is “the world’s colossus, the indisputable power, the new Rome, the twenty-first-century empire, the sole super power.” It would have been even more interesting had David pursued this theme a little bit more.

    One must never forget that the US is not only huge and immensely powerful, but it also very young–younger than Québec for example–as a political entity, especially in terms of a global role. The US we boomers saw growing up was largely the creation of immigration waves at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. Its concern about global order and its hegemonic role was a response in large measure to Britain’s inability to control events in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean in 1947-8. The political consensus around the Pentagon was formed after China became controlled by the CP under Mao and the USSR exploded an atomic bomb. The first post-war efforts at drawing a line of global influence–a disastrous speech by Dean Acheson–led Stalin to encourage the North Koreans to attack the South. The economic underpinning of empire –namely a market economy based on trade liberalization underpinned by a global role for the US dollar–took more than 30 years to achieve under the GATT and was only provided with an adequate institutional base in the WTO at the end of the last century. The impressive military and naval power of the US evolved through the two world wars and the cold war, in part by underpinning the federal government presence in the southern US where it became a force for promoting minority civil rights (since the integration of the armed forces under Truman)–and has since evolved on its own, to some extent as a separate entity from the rest of the US. The internal procurement machinery of the Pentagon has created a force designed to fight future world wars, including sci fi wars in space. The rhetoric of US=No 1 has been a powerful support of global engagement despite the persistence of a much deeper tradition of “je m’en foutisme” in regard to the rest of the world. My point is that the system in place has evolved in a certain way as a response to specific historical circumstances. If the Pentagon were not at the centre of US global engagement, what part of the US executive branch would be?

    The result, to be sure, is that the urgent has to a large extent driven out the necessary, and we see where that has led. But would a displacement of the Pentagon or even a US serious policy review generate results that are in Canada’s interests?

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