In speeches and policy pronouncements over the course of this past year, President Barack Obama's team has offered hints of the new president's approach to international politics. During his trip to China, he began to convert rhetoric into policy.
What are those basic premises, and how will they translate into Mr. Obama's China policy?
First, as Mr. Obama stated last year at a European meeting of the G-20, there is nothing exceptional about America's role or duties in the world. Second, in a July speech in Washington at the start of a meeting between senior Chinese and American officials, the president made the case that the world has entered an era that transcends great power politics. Great powers must choose to cooperate; they have more in common than not. Third, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Obama put forward his view that we are in an era of new partnerships and that "the alignments of nations rooted in the . . . Cold War" no longer "make sense." Fourth, while the U.N. Assembly's Charter commits each of us to "affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women," America has been too "selective" in its application of these rights in the past. The United States is thus in no position to promote and defend them aggressively. Fifth, with the advent of the Obama presidency we are "in a new era of engagement." During the Bush years, America had become a rogue state, with the world's nations wary of both our policies and friendship. Now, under Mr. Obama, America will return to being a responsible power, promoting mutual respect and common interests.
Dan Blumenthal is a resident fellow at AEI