Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union reaction

Nothing particularly new or different--in foreign policy terms--from tonight's state of the union. Perhaps it is best characterized as a summary of the key talking points of the last seven years--and some of them have not been updated.

No real discussion of the challenges he will be bequeathing his successor. China mentioned once--in the context of creating a clean energy technology fund (only mention of India as well--nothing about whether or not the supposed "alliance" of the oldest and largest democracies is in jeopardy). The list of the unfree countries remains the safe one--Burma, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Cuba. No discussion of Russia or what the U.S. stance will be on how, when and why NATO expands again. Europe not mentioned, no discussion of the future of the dollar or the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Is what was said about the Middle East peace process likely to convince people in the region that the Administration is going to make an all-out effort in its final months? What does it mean we are going to "do everything we can."

My guess is that most foreign leaders--those friendly to us and those less than friendly to us--are going to interpret this speech to mean--wait to January 2009.

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