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Wednesday 23 Aug 2017 | 18:27 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 23 Aug 2017 | 18:27 | SYDNEY

It's only words

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23 June 2008 16:16

Various American political bloggers have dissected this Obama interview from the perspective of whether he might, if elected, keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. But there is another reading. Here's the key quote:

I really admire the way the elder Bush negotiated the end of the cold war—with discipline, tough diplomacy and restraint...and I'd be very interested in having those sorts of Republicans in my Administration, especially people who can expedite a responsible and orderly conclusion to the Iraq war—and who know how to keep the hammer down on al-Qaeda.

'Restraint', 'responsible', 'orderly'. Given my earlier call for a return to modesty in American foreign policy, I find that quote reassuring.

But one shouldn't be seduced by politicians' words. Remember, Governor Bush entered the 2000 presidential election campaign on a platform of foreign policy humility, telling Al Gore in one of the presidential debates that 'I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you'.

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