Barack Obama's choice on Syria will define his presidency
The Syria choice will decide the tug-of-war between idealism and restraint in the Obama administration—and in the president's self-definition.
The Wikileaks cables are certainly important: They make public the sort of first-hand, original-source information that, until now, it has taken historians and journalists years or decades to obtain. But does this mean that the days of secret diplomacy are over? Not even close. The reason is that the foreign policy bureaucracy will adjust, as it has before. True, Wikileaks has taken us well beyond the types of disclosures that the Freedom of Information Act, for the past several decades, has provided to journalists and historians.
The assertion of Newt Gingrich and of the conservative author Dinesh D’Souza that President Obama’s actions can somehow be explained by a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview has already been greeted with the ridicule it deserves. But the funny thing is that while this theory (let’s call it the “Kenya paranoia”) is silly, it also isn’t entirely new with Gingrich or D’Souza.
Over the last few months, China has had several fairly nasty public rows with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Robert M.
A couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, complained indignantly about China’s current and bitter hostility toward multinational corporations. According to the Financial Times, Immelt groused at a private dinner in Rome that the Chinese government was becoming ever more protectionist. “I am not sure that in the end, they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful,” he said. Immelt’s remarks point to a noteworthy shift in the dynamic that moves American policy toward China, one tinged with irony.
For decades, various Chinese officials and outsiders have reassured the world that the country’s Communist Party leadership eventually planned to open up its one-party political system. The regime would undertake major political reforms and liberalization, it was said, to accompany the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late ’70s. It was merely a question of choosing the right time. Writing in Foreign Affairs two years ago, John L.