Bush ‘Will Still Pursue Aggressive’ Foreign Policy (Financial Times)
President George W. Bush has won a mandate from the American people to continue pursuing his “aggressive” foreign policy, but the US will also reach out to the international community where it can, according to Colin Powell, the secretary of state.
“The president is not going to trim his sails or pull back,” Mr Powell told the Financial Times on Monday. “It’s a continuation of his principles, his policies, his beliefs.” In his first interview since the presidential election last Tuesday, Mr Powell stressed Mr Bush had won a mandate to pursue a foreign policy that was in the US national interest.
That policy would also be in the interest of friends and alliances, and while it would be “multilateral in nature”, the US would act alone where necessary.
At first glance, the story seems provocative. But, when you consider what “aggressive” may mean in this context, you realize that it’s less damning than the headline suggests:
Mr Powell said US foreign policy had been “aggressive in terms of going after challenges, issues”. The president was “going to keep moving in this direction”.
While referring to the controversy over Iraq and the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mr Powell stressed that an aggressive foreign policy also covered an active approach to combating Aids and developing world issues. [Emphasis added.]
On the one hand, given the importance of striving to mend ruptured alliances, I wish that Powell could have used a better word and that the Times could have been more judicious with its lede. More important, I wish that Powell could have discussed how the administration plans to learn from its mistakes and improve its execution of the war. On the other hand, since I generally support its grand strategy, I have no problems with such reaffirmations of policy aims.