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Comments on the President’s First Overseas Trip

April 8, 2009

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s first overseas trip, Susan Eisenhower and Steve Clemons were interviewed together on Sky News. Steve wrote about the interview on his blog, The Washington Note:

Susan Eisenhower and I were interviewed outdoors today atop a building overlooking the Capitol by Sky News on the subject of Obama’s trip to the London G-20 Summit, the EU Summit and the NATO Summit — followed by a significant trip to Turkey.

Eisenhower, granddaughter of the late President, is an expert on Russia and Europe and helped animate the “Republicans for Obama” movement.

Her comments today on Sky were important as she stated that she saw the “restart” in US-Russian relations as something crafted by Obama and Medvedev — not Vladimir Putin. She said that there may be a power struggle underway in Moscow between the President and Prime Minister — and that the President seemed to have the upper hand in the recent warming of relations with the West, but things remain fragile and tentative.

She warned that Obama had to be careful not to close down foreign policy options and not box himself into a position. She generally agreed with my views on North Korea, suggesting that the President and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice need a more complex, nuanced response to the missile launch than the binary one they seemed to be embracing.

She applauded Obama’s ability to get Europeans, Turks, and others from around the world to suspend their anger at the US for triggering a global financial crisis and to talk about broader challenges that need attention and to improve in their eyes America’s standing.

Eisenhower really should be asked to serve as an Obama administration ambassador to a leading nation. These are my views — not hers — but she really has tremendous insights into statecraft and our nation’s foreign policy challenges in a way that would enhance the chances of success for the Obama administration in world affairs.

I’m not sure she’d take a position as a diplomat at a top tier country — but Obama’s team should ask, and I hope she’d accept.

 

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