Reaching out to the people of Iran. This is the policy Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been talking about and, it seems, implementing -- at long last. For too long this administration has seemed to regard its message as self-evidently appealing and easily accessible. NSS 2.0 takes a more realistic view. It blames Islamist terrorism on, among other things, "subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation. Terrorists recruit more effectively from populations whose information about the world is contaminated by falsehoods and corrupted by conspiracy theories."
But people won't get accurate information if we don't supply it. To do that, NSS 2.0 calls for "transformational diplomacy," including "actively engaging foreign audiences" and "enlisting the support of the private sector." We did this successfully in the Cold War, but have not done such a good job lately. It looks like the administration is aiming to do better.
Foreign policies do not always turn out as expected. There is less emphasis in NSS 2.0 on Latin America and Europe, and more on East Asia and South Asia, where U.S. policy has made advances unseen in 2002. NSS 2.0 is downright downbeat on Russia. "Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions," it reads. "Strengthening our relationship will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts."
The gauntlet is also laid down to China. "As China becomes a global player, it must act as a responsible stakeholder that fulfills its obligations and works with the United States and others to advance the international system that has enabled its success."
Sept. 11 prompted George W. Bush to make "the most fundamental reassessment of American grand strategy in over half a century," historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote of NSS 1.0. Bush put his own particular stamp on that policy -- the relentless insistence that promoting democracy is our prime goal. NSS 2.0 provides some course corrections, but retains the same overall outlook and emphasizes democracy promotion even more strongly. However beleaguered he may be in current polls, Bush has produced a foreign policy framework that promises to be enduring.