NPR reported this afternoon that Barack Obama made a positive impression when he visited the U.S. State Department. Reportedly, Obama was well-received by the State Department staffers who were invited to hear him speak — and further that he lingered to chat with other staffers. The clear implication of the NPR report is that the State Department believes that Obama will be relying more on diplomacy, whereas the Bush administration had placed relatively more importance on military power.
Obama named George Mitchell as a special envoy to move the Middle East peace process forward. At a press conference where he was flanked by Obama and Secetary of State Hillary Clinton, Mitchell said in part:
There is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created, conducted, and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings.
If taken out of context, these words could be interpreted as an indictment of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Instead of taking them out of context, I will assert that these words strike me as a clear departure from the Bush administration’s saber-rattling postures and policies. And the BBC Web site said much the same thing:
With Thursday’s announcements, Mr Obama has signalled that American diplomacy is under new management, says the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Washington.
I’m hoping today’s news represents a new trend for the U.S. — a trend of relying on diplomacy as the primary means for furthering the country’s foreign policy.