Grading the Listening Tours

It's foolish to expect too much from a maiden voyage overseas. But if we are filled with an unreasoning hope for change, the blame lies at the feet of candidate Barack Obama, who led us to believe his ascent would do miracles for America's global influence. It didn't.

To be fair, few expected that Canada would abandon NAFTA, meet emissions targets or recant a decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Nor did we expect China to abandon North Korea, Japan to feel comfortable with America's drift from our alliance or North Korea to suddenly embrace disarmament and peace with the South.

President Obama was greeted by Canadians seized with fear about the "Buy America" protectionism in the new stimulus package.

Still, there are lessons to be learned. First, know your facts: Hillary Clinton suggested that North Korea restarted reprocessing plutonium only when the Bush administration decided to tear up her husband's Agreed Framework. This is highly misleading; the CIA reckons that North Korea had a nuclear weapon in the 1990s. Second, remember that the neighbors are watching: President Obama was greeted by Canadians seized with fear about the "Buy America" protectionism in the new stimulus package.

The new administration deserves a chance to fulfill our allies' hopes--and make clear to our adversaries that Obama's team is not hopelessly naive. The first step is ensuring that what we say and do at home is consistent with those goals. Thus far, the administration has faltered slightly, but there is time to set things right.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI.

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