I recently spoke with my colleague Robert Kaplan about U.S. foreign policy. We discussed many different interesting things, including the new envoy system at the State Department, the China threat, South America and the break from the Bush Administration. You should read it, mainly for Bob's insights:
Goldberg: I think the tonal difference--and tonal differences can sometimes lead over to actual substantive differences--is enormous. Obama is hyper-consciously doing what pre-9/11 George Bush said he would do, which is to have a humble a foreign policy. My basic take is that national interests are permanent and a president is there to advance American national interests. If he does that through charm or bullying or bribery or glibness or appeals to morality or military force--it doesn't actually matter as long as he advances American national interests in the appropriate way.
Kaplan: I agree. And I would add that in a global media environment, charm and packaging matter a lot more than they used to matter.
Goldberg: This is where tone actually become substance in a way.
Kaplan: Yes. We do live in this fishbowl media environment where setting the right tone matters so much. But that's been the real shift. ...