When President Bush leaves office in January, he’ll take with him the cadre of neo-cons who shaped the administration’s foreign policy over the last eight years. Their departure offers the hope that the U.S. will meet the world in a whole new way: Not as imperial conquerors, but as a willing member of the community of nations, acting in a spirit not of domination, but of cooperation.
For better or worse, Iraq and Afghanistan, and probably Iran, will certainly continue as center points of U.S. foreign relations. But the rest of the world matters, and the change of administration gives the opportunity to revisit our country’s whole approach to international relations.
Take Africa, for instance. What will it take to “decolonize” our images of Africa, and thus our way of relating to the continent, its varied nations and peoples? As best-selling author and human rights advocate John Prendergast explains, Africa—long portrayed in the U.S. as a desperate basket case—is actually a land filled with enormous possibility. The way the U.S. engages with Africa—in everything from aid and trade relations to patent laws to multilateral treaties—makes a huge difference in the lives of millions of people.
And few would question the central effect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on world relations. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, head of the Reformed Church in America, describes in his article (“Discovering Palestine,” page 18) how he gradually came to see Palestinian Christians as brothers and sisters—and how that transformed his understanding of what it will take for the U.S. to play an “honest broker” role in the region.
In that kind of transformation are seeds of hope for people the world over—a hope for new models of U.S. global behavior in the post-Bush era.—The Editors