Who Cares Who We Talk to?

The only way to revive US influence is to stop empowering our foes with oil dollars
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2008 1:42 PM CDT
U.S. President George W. Bush delivers remarks during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, Sunday, May 18, 2008, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Though politicians and pundits alike are caught up in which foes the US should or shouldn't be reaching out to, Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times, points out that few world leaders of any stripe are sitting by the phone waiting for our call. Waning American influence and the rise of new powers in the developing world and outside the state system worry Friedman much more.

The Bush administration's most egregious foreign-policy failure was not Iraq but an energy policy (or lack of) that had the president begging Saudi Arabia for more oil rather than mobilizing "the most powerful innovation engine in the world—the US economy—to produce a scalable alternative to oil." As a result, "petro-authoritarian states" from Russia to Venezuela to Iran now wield power alongside rising stars of the developing world: China, India, and Brazil. And there's a "superclass" of non-state actors, from financiers to terrorists, with whom the US has little leverage at all.