One of the key criticisms of the former administration was a noted lack of international diplomacy. With Barack Obama’s new team poised to fulfill the promise of change, his administration must place international diplomacy and foreign affairs at the top of its list.
Recently, however, diplomacy has been viewed as a political weakness, greatly tarnishing our respectability and moral standing throughout much of the world. A return to an era of international diplomacy, especially given the current global recession, would ensure that America could serve again as the beacon of hope for so many abroad. It is our respectability and reputation that are of the utmost importance, and the process of cultivating that reputation requires a keen understanding of global interconnection.
It is difficult to progress as a nation if we do not recognize the power of globalization and the importance of international relations. The Obama administration must reconnect the bonds with our allies while continually seeking new connections. There is truth to the old adage that there is strength in numbers. If we are to contribute to the advances of the 21st century, we, as a nation, must seek an inclusive approach to international affairs.
The controversial phrase, Bush Doctrine speaks to the nature of preemptive war which, many argue, undermines the notion of peaceful disengagement. To peacefully disengage from conflict can be and often is a better means of preventing conflict. The idea, however, that a country is justified in attacking another sovereign nation before a threat is even presented, is, I would argue, a contradictory stance. A preemptive war, which is based on fear, actualized or not, cannot aid this nation in any attempt at diplomatic relations.
Our relation with other nations, that is, how that relation is perceived, is a very real thing with very real consequences. The Iran Contra Affair speaks volumes to the reality of perceptions, insofar as much of the conflict could have been mitigated with a transparent government and better diplomatic relations. The process of courting allegiances and investing both diplomatic relations and capital into bolstering our international respectability can only make our global reputation that much stronger.
As the saying goes, our reputation must precede us; this suggests that the thought of an American among foreigners, should not elicit images of arrogance and entitlement. We ought to care about our global perception. We ought to take very seriously the ramifications of any attempts, by domestics or foreigners, to tarnish the good name of America. It is the idea of freedom and democracy that we must protect, because, interestingly enough, those concepts protect us.
Non citizens want to become citizens because of these concepts. The ideas of freedom and democracy have motivated countless millions to flee their respective countries and find a safe haven within our borders. If however, our name is tarnished, if we are losing respectability among international communities, people will not choose to come to America. People will grow resentful of our arrogance, and eventually they will attack us. Preventing that attack, however, does not require the use of force; it only requires the recognition of our global status and a strong sense of humility.