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From Hope to Audacity

Appraising Obama's Foreign Policy

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) attends a public forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts, October 20, 2006. Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters

The foreign policy of U.S. President Barack Obama can be assessed most usefully in two parts: first, his goals and decision-making system and, second, his policies and their implementation. Although one can speak with some confidence about the former, the latter is still an unfolding process.

To his credit, Obama has undertaken a truly ambitious effort to redefine the United States' view of the world and to reconnect the United States with the emerging historical context of the twenty-first century. He has done this remarkably well. In less than a year, he has comprehensively reconceptualized U.S. foreign policy with respect to several centrally important geopolitical issues:
•  Islam is not an enemy, and the "global war on terror" does not define the United States' current role in the world;
•  the United States will be a fair-minded and assertive mediator when it comes to attaining lasting peace between Israel and

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