Obama’s 100-Day Dash

I’m not going to have a whole lot to say about President Barack Obama’s first hundred days in office, since we invited an impressive group of foreign policy luminaries to do that for us in next Tuesday’s feature issue. But I will say this: Getting people with a hardened negative opinion about the U.S. to withhold judgment and instead pay attention to the message coming out of Washington is, in itself, a tangible result:

– U.S., Cuban diplomats meet? Check.
– Evo Morales impressed? Check.
– Syria less mistrustful? Check.
– Hamas keeping its ear to the ground? Check.

Now, if you look at the above list, it’s made up of unsavory characters, none of whom we should feel beholden to or obligated to get along with. Add to it the hot and cold signals from Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the lineup doesn’t look any better. And there’s still no way of knowing whether there will be any subsequent payoff to Obama’s approach in the way of changed behavior and improved relations.

But should the effort fail, it will very likely reflect more poorly on Obama’s interlocuters than on Obama. And either way, the U.S. image abroad only stands to gain. So given Obama’s objectives and his strategy for achieving them, he has already accomplished the first and necessary task.

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