Saturday, January 24, 2009

International Relations

Another aspect of an American presidential transition involves the new president's contacts with his counterparts in other countries.

The BBC reports on President Obama's first post-inauguration phone conversation with U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown. That piece is an indication of the importance that foreign media place on such contacts.

Whatever one believes about any diminution in American economic and geopolitical influence in recent years, the U.S. is still the dominant player in major arenas of power in the world. Consequently, other countries recognize the importance of their political leaders' relationships with an American president.

A new president's schedule of his first face-to-face meetings with foreign leaders is considered to be of symbolic, as well as substantive, importance. Obama has confirmed that he will follow tradition, and visit Canada in his first trip outside the country during his presidency.

No matter what is said about a "special relationship" with Britain, or a need to forge better relationships with emerging world powers such as China and India, the long U.S.-Canada border, and the huge trading relationship between our two countries, still put the U.S.-Canadian relationship in a category separate from relationships with other countries.

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