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Our Manic White House

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
March 4, 2009
The Daily Beast


Maybe it makes sense to roll out a frenzy of big new ideas on the economy. But the White House is doing the same thing with foreign policy--and it's dangerous.

Hardly a day goes by that the Obama brain trust isn't promoting some big new idea or proposal on foreign policy and the economy. What with the financial community clamoring for reassurances, a case can be made for a flow of big new ideas on the money front. But it's certainly a bad practice to constantly fill the international airwaves with bold new initiatives, new thinking, and commentary.

Just take a look at this bewildering array of treats.

The Obama team is dispatching two--count them--envoys to Syria because Syria, it turns out, is the "key" to Arab-Israeli peace, Iran, and other good things. But it seems a stretch to believe that President Bashar al-Assad would ever take the political risk of getting out ahead of the Palestinians in seeking peace with Israel, and it seems odder still that the road to Tehran leads through Damascus. By all means, send the envoys (one from Iran honcho Dennis Ross and one from Mideast honcho George Mitchell) and open up that line--but without thinking it's the yellow brick road.

The White House took the occasion of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit this week to redefine America's half-century-long "special relationship" with Great Britain.


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