- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

America first

The United States is a reluctant superpower on the global stage, but one determined to spread its values around the world for the betterment of mankind, according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a review of eight years of Bush administration foreign policy.

“An international order that reflects our values is the best guarantee of our enduring national interest, and America continues to have a unique opportunity to shape this outcome,” she wrote in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine.

Miss Rice reviewed the challenges that reshaped the administration, beginning with the shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks less than nine months into President Bush’s first term. Those attacks dramatically changed Mr. Bush from a domestic-policy chief executive to a foreign-policy president, one who came to promote the idea of democratic nation-building after criticizing foreign adventurism during the 2000 election campaign.

Miss Rice herself noted she wrote a lengthy article in Foreign Affairs eight years ago in which she also “decried” nation-building.

“In 2008, it is absolutely clear that we will be involved in nation-building for years to come,” she wrote this time.

The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime that shelteredOsama bin Laden and of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein made Americans the midwives of the birth of democracy in both nations. Miss Rice defended the overthrow of Saddam because he had become a threat to international stability and the United Nations was failing to enforce sanctions against his regime.

“The United States did not overthrow Saddam to democratize the Middle East,” she said. “It did so to remove a long-standing threat to international security. But the administration was conscious of the goal of democratization in the aftermath of liberation.”

Mr. Bush soon embraced the goal of promoting democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere as a way to guarantee stability around the world. Miss Rice dismissed critics who said the United States must choose between advocating its own security interests or supporting democracy as a “false choice.”

“In the long term, our security is best ensured by the success of our ideals: freedom, human rights, open markets, democracy and the rule of law,” she said.

Miss Rice rejected the “old dichotomy between realism and idealism” in foreign policy, explaining the United States possesses a “uniquely American realism.”

“This makes us an incredibly impatient nation. We live in the future, not the past … ,” she said.

“We Americans engage in foreign policy because we have to, not because we want to, and this is a healthy disposition. It is that of a republic, not an empire.”

No PR move

Bahrain’s decision to become the first Arab nation to appoint a Jewish ambassador to the United States is no public relations move, the foreign minister of the Gulf kingdom said over the weekend.

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