Monday, October 25, 2010

Hillary Clinton Embraces Feel-Good Foreign Policy

By Barry Rubin

What could be more routine than those little notes countries send other countries to say Happy Birthday? Yet even here there’s a sort of strangeness about the current U.S. government’s approach to the Middle East .

On October 25, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent national day greetings to Austria , not exactly among the big international players. Yet in these 187 words, the State Department found space to praise Austrian Middle East policy. What did Vienna do that was so great? Support U.S. strategic aims? Back sanctions against Iran? Cooperate in counterterrorism efforts? Assist U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Iraq ?

Well, here’s what Clinton said:

“From the Balkans to the Middle East , Austrians have proven their commitment to equality, economic prosperity, and justice for all people.”

This seems like a page fell out of the domestic policy book. Equality? You mean that Austria conducted a campaign for fairness to women or Christians, Kurds or Berbers in Muslim-majority countries? Economic prosperity? Did it buy a lot of oil? Justice? Did Austria battle the Taliban and terrorists in Iraq , or do something on behalf of promoting democracy? Or perhaps it supported healthcare reform and a stimulus package in Morocco ?

Nothing against Austria here, but have U.S. strategic interests vanished from the face of the earth? Not long ago people were making fun of George W. Bush for trying to export democracy to those who didn’t necessarily want it. Now the Obama administrations wants to export "equality, economic prosperity, and justice for all people."

A little later, Clinton thanked the Austrian government for supporting sanctions against Iran and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. But that doesn't explain the weird national day greetings.

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