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The Cold War left behind

Monday, March 22, 2010; A16

Robert Kagan was right about one thing ["Snubbed by Obama? Join the club," op-ed, March 17]. President Obama is, indeed, moving away from America's Cold War foreign policy. It is about time.

To keep Americans safe from the most dire threats today, America has to work with others. In Mr. Kagan's world, help from our democratic allies would be enough. If only!

Mr. Obama is engaging with non-democracies because we have to. We can't address climate change or global economic meltdowns without China and nuclear nonproliferation without Russia.

Of course America will still assert its own interests when we disagree with these powers. China's leaders are not exactly feeling coddled in the wake of the president's meeting with the Dalai Lama and the announcement of arms sales to Taiwan.

The six trips President Obama took to Europe hardly constitute inattention. Yet some differences with our allies are inevitable.

We have newly potent threats and a changing multipolar world, but conservatives offer the same old hollow strategies. That would be more understandable if we did not have eight years of examples of why their ideas do not work.

Nina Hachigian, Washington

The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

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