Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered the keynote address this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a high-powered gathering of business, political and cultural leaders from around the world. At times humble and conciliatory, her speech attempted to shift the world's view of the Bush administration's foreign policy. Rice argued that President Bush did not break with long-held U.S. foreign policy norms but was actually following a grand American tradition that stretches back to Theodore Roosevelt a hundred years ago.
Most strikingly, Rice's themes of global cooperation and U.S. leadership echo those of another president — Rice's former boss, George H.W. Bush, who offered his own global vision in a major speech he gave to Texas A&M University on Dec. 15, 1992, shortly before leaving office. The elder Bush, of course, was known as an unsentimental "realist" about foreign policy, in contrast to the "neoconservative" idealism that has characterized much of his son's administration. With the global markets in turmoil and the United States mired in Iraq, however, Rice's efforts to recast U.S. foreign policy may come too late.