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Washington’s Foreign Policy Folly

A basic requirement of a wise and effective foreign policy is the ability to establish priorities and make tough choices.  Unfortunately, U.S. officials seem increasingly incapable of accomplishing such a task.  That grim reality is all too evident as the Obama administration drifts into confrontational relationships simultaneously with Russia and China.

Even Henry Kissinger, hardly an opponent of a muscular, interventionist U.S. role in the world, warned against committing such a blunder.  Reflecting on the Nixon administration’s decision to normalize relations with China, Kissinger emphasized the underlying geostrategic rationale.  “Our relations to possible opponents,” he wrote in White House Years, should be such “that our options toward both of them were always greater than their options toward each other.”  In other words, he believed that Washington should make certain that its ties to both Beijing and Moscow are always closer than their ties to each other.  The Obama administration is violating that prudent principle and thereby creating grave risks for the United States.

Both China and Russia are clearly major players in the international system and have the capacity either to ease America’s international problems or create serious headaches.  As the main successor state of the defunct Soviet Union, the Russian Federation inherited...

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