Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A humble approach

President Obama on foreign policy:
Well, look - obviously, in the Middle East, across a wide range of types of governments, there are some human rights issues. I don't think there's any dispute about that. The message I hope to deliver is that democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion - those are not simply principles of the west to be hoisted on these countries.

But, rather what I believe to be universal principles that they can embrace and affirm as part of their national identity, the danger, I think, is when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture.

And I think the thing that we can do, most importantly, is serve as a good role model.

I think that this is broadly correct. The proper role for the U.S. is not to tell other countries how to run their affairs, but to serve as a model that inspires others to follow our example. The best thing the U.S. can do is promote engagement with these countries and the exchange of ideas and commerce to inspire their citizens, such as our approach with China.

After all, it was almost exactly 20 years ago that we witnessed this:

Goddess of Democracy, Tienanmen Square

The kicker for me, however, is how sharply this humble approach to foreign policy contrasts with the arrogance of the administration's domestic policy as it reorganizes and regulates vast swathes of the economy.

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