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Showing posts from May 12, 2009

Obama Must Move beyond Pseudo-Events

Pundits in Washington and elsewhere have yet to outline US President Barack Obama's Grand Strategy, or to provide an account of an Obama Doctrine of foreign policy akin to the more dramatic changes he has made in American economic policy. All they can point to is a series of "pseudo events," the term that historian Daniel Boorstin coined to depict activity that exists for the purpose of the media publicity and has no immediate effect on real life.

From that perspective, Obama's recent trip to Europe, in which he addressed the G-20 and NATO summits and the Turkish Parliament, as well as his participation in the Summit of the Americas, have been regarded by most of the American media as foreign policy "successes." He has won praise for meeting with top world leaders and for his television appearances aimed at audiences in the Middle East, including the Iranian people.

But in reality, Obama can claim no concrete diplomatic accomplishments. Europe's public an…