Old dialogue, new speaker

Obama showed a dramatic and positive break with Bush-era foreign policy during his recent trip through the Americas.

ObamaâÄôs visit to Latin America, including trips to Mexico and Venezuela, was wrongly criticized last week. While meeting with the authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez, Obama was condemned for sharing smiles and laughter. However, the trip was a success and served to build alliances. Although it was not broadcasted this way, ObamaâÄôs diplomacy with Latin American nations is commendable and should be praised. In particular, this trip enabled the repair of sour relations. With the current drug wars and violence occurring on the Mexican border, it was crucial for Obama to pay a visit. President Obama openly discussed the illegal drug cartels with President Felipe Calderon and expressed our commitment to resolving the issue. If we want to work together to stop the bloodshed and the senseless demand for narcotics, then we need to show support for Mexico. By reaching out to the Global South, Obama is preempting conflict and building important alliances. In addition, Obama lifted the ban on Cuban Americans visiting Cuba. This opened positive communication between Cuban leader Raul Castro and our own administration. Obama expresses his thoughts on the trip: âÄúWe have been too easily distracted by other priorities and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas.” We need to remain engaged with these countries if we want to press our initiatives and work with global leaders. Instead of applauding Obama for his diplomacy, critics expressed outrage and concern that our nation would be seen as supportive of socialism. It is absurd to advocate for Obama to refrain from meeting with other world leaders because of their political ideology. In fact, this is exactly why the Bush years were so damaging to our foreign relations. However, Obama has taken a different approach toward Latin America that is pragmatic and preemptive.