Pundits had a field day with the rock-star reception Obama received following his July speech in Berlin, but it's a nice change that the world seems to adore the next President. Obama should exploit this goodwill with an encore a triumphant global tour, but this time with strings attached. Sure, he should offer the world a return of U.S. leadership and a responsible, collaborative foreign policy. But he should nail down some commitments in return.
Foreign leaders are already thrilled with Obama for the simple reason that he is not George W. Bush. He can make them even happier with a noncowboy agenda: closing Guantánamo, starting to withdraw from Iraq, reviving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other deals Bush rejected, restoring some semblance of diplomatic relations with foreign pariahs, renouncing the neoconservative vision of democratizing the Middle East by force, even reviving the Washington tradition known as the state dinner. The crowds will go wild. And there will never be a better time to extract some concessions from allies and enemies alike.
So what should Obama ask for? He should start by demanding more allied troops for Afghanistan, where he plans to increase the U.S. presence. He could push for more pressure on Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear programs, less enabling of Russian thuggishness in Eastern Europe and joint action to fight genocide and global warming. He could demand an end to gratuitous Israel-bashing at the U.N. He could even pressure his new fanboy Nicolas Sarkozy of France and other Europeans to slash their outrageous farm subsidies, which are shafting Third World farmers and stalling global trade talks. Of course, even the most Obama-infatuated Europeans will never agree to a sane farm policy until Americans do. Speaking of which ...
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