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New US President will not change Bush policies, predicts leading analyst

30 Jul 2008

The foreign policy of US Presidential candidate Barack Obama will be almost identical to that of his predecessor George W Bush, according to one of the UK’s leading American foreign policy analysts.

Professor Inderjeet Parmar – Head of Politics at The University of Manchester pored over every speech on foreign policy made by Obama since 2000 to conclude the Bush policy of intervening against foreign powers will be if anything, strengthened if he wins in November.

He has also studied the policy positions of Obama's principal foreign policy advisers over recent years.

Both Obama and Republican candidate John McCain have both pledged to establish a grouping of democratic countries which according to Professor Parmar is a calculated move to undermine the United Nations.

However, both Obama and McCain say their new institution will uphold UN values.

Countries most likely to join will be Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and possibly India though many other countries will not be allowed access argues Professor Parmar.

The move also reinforces the aims of a little known organisation called ‘the Council of a Community of Democracies’ established by leading advisors to previous administrations in the 1990s.

“Obama’s policies abroad are very much in the mode of Liberal Interventionism resembling the polices of say Madeleine Albright or Richard Holbrooke.

“But there is a strong similarity with exponents of McCain’s Conservative Nationalism – adhered to by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and George Bush himself.

“It’s merely a question of tone and nuance - Liberal Interventionists don’t like to openly discuss the military option and prefer to talk about using diplomacy against their enemies,” he said.

“Obama is rhetorically different to Bush - but you would expect than that in opposition. In effect his policies on Iran, Iraq and Israel are almost entirely the same.

“Military action is definitely not off limits against some countries.”

Obama’s foreign policy advisers are pioneers and supporters of the concept of Concert of Democracies which is fashioned on lines similar to McCains League of Democracies.

One Obama advisor Ivo Daalder argued in a recent article that a move to bring established democracies together into a single institution would be best suited for countering the new global challenges since the fall of Communism and 9.11.

Professor Parmar added: “This new institution will be led by America. It will be unlikely to intervene in those countries which are friendly to the USA -  irrespective of their human rights record.

“And that has to be seen as an attack on the authority of the UN which will almost certainly divided and weakened.

“It could give the United States and its allies a means to legitimize an attack on a sovereign country with or without the sanction of the UN.”

Notes for editors

Professor Parmar’s paper “Foreign policy fusion: liberal interventionists, conservative nationalists and neoconservatives, the new alliance dominating the us foreign policy establishment” is available.

He is available for comment

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The University of Manchester
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michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk