And Obama does not have the lengthy military and war time service of Senator John McCain.
Yet Obama does bring something very different to the foreign policy table. His staff and supporters point to his multicultural roots (his father was a Kenyan studying in the United States) and his childhood years living abroad (Indonesia, where he spent four years in grade school) as an indication that he has a more realistic and nuanced view of the world. And they always say his short time in Washington, DC is a positive because it means he hasn't been corrupted by the city's ways.
Obama's PositionsSenator Obama opposed the war in Iraq, and he has promised a withdrawal of all American troops. He advocates a regional conference involving Syria and Iran as one part of an ultimate Iraq solution. He partnered with GOP Senator Richard Lugar in efforts to fight proliferation of nuclear weapons. Obama has also spoken out on the importance of energy independence and the need for U.S. leadership in dealing with global climate change. He seeks significant changes in U.S.-Cuba policy.
But, of course, the most prominent thing voter's know about an Obama foreign policy is that he has said his administration would enter into diplomatic talks with governments the Bush Administration would not. His Web site says:
Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism, and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.This willingness to talk to foes has been labeled "naive" by his opponent and by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Moreover, McCain and others have tried to equate Obama's position with that of former President Jimmy Carter, who conservatives also say was not "tough" enough on foreign policy.
In a larger sense, many say the mere presence of a young, African-American in the Oval Office would force allies and adversaries around the world to rethink their perceptions of the United States:
- An Obama-Biden foreign policy, from Gwynne Dyer
- Zakaria: Obama would be good for U.S. image abroad, from CNN
- Around the world, much would be expected of a President Obama, from the AP and Pueblo Chieftain
- The world loves Obama, except Jordan, from Foreign Policy Passport
- Obama's International Moment, from UNA-USA