There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days about whether or not Barack Obama is ready, “on day one,” to handle the foreign policy aspect of being President. I have much to say on this issue and hope to blog more, but this week has brought us a full color image of what President Barack Obama would look like in the foreign policy realm.
In the middle of a grueling campaign schedule for all of the candidates, Kenya is in turmoil over a contested Presidential election of its own. There has been some extreme violence in that normally stable country. As you may or may not be aware, the Obama family is from Kenya and Barack Obama still has relatives there. He is well known there and the people of Kenya are watching our election.
Because of his name recognition in that country, Obama knew that he could offer something during this time of crisis. So he picked up the phone on January 1 and called Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and asked if he could be of service. She called back and asked him to tape a message to be played on the Voice of America. He did so and you can read an excerpt here.
He has also, with the blessing of the White House, called both the President of Kenya and the opposition leader. He has spoken with Bishop Desmond Tutu and had “had near-daily conversations with the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya.”
The Obama campaign, however, has not publicized this. This is not something he is doing to prove his capability as a leader in foreign policy. He is doing this because it is right; because he can make a difference. This is the kind of instinct we can expect him to have when he is President and these are the kinds of actions we can expect him to take. As Joe Klein said in his Time piece of January 7, “it does seem noteworthy that, in the midst of the most amazing week of his life, Barack Obama has found the time to do . . . some diplomatic scut-work. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of this sort of thing if he wins the nomination and is elected President.” Is he ready? You better believe it.