Shedding 'Bush baggage'

2008-11-19 00:00

It was reported yesterday that United States president-elect Barack Obama had undertaken to pull troops out of Iraq, crush al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and shut down the Guantanamo Bay camp, a dramatic programme signalling a complete break with the foreign policy of George W. Bush.

This news will be widely welcomed. It is highly desirable that the U.S. withdraw from places where it has no business to be. It’s also important that Obama take steps to shed as much as possible of the “Bush baggage” as soon as he assumes office. But should joy be unconfined, or should we wait and see? One possibility, after all, is that Obama, in his keenness to stress the difference between himself and Bush, concerns himself more with withdrawal than with engagement and so might have set the U.S. on a path of retreat into isolationism. Let us hope that he and hisadvisers are not lured along that route, but are rather encouraged to adopt the European model of collaboration and negotiation in international affairs. The U.S. would thus be better able to respond constructively to the demands which will continue to be made of it as the richest and most powerful nation on the globe.

Even as the world waits for Obama’s full foreign affairs package to take shape and to be implemented though, no thinking person can fail to be hopeful, following this evidence of his determination to let in light and air, and return the U.S. to civilisation.

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