Much has been made of the amateur hour quality of Obama's foreign policy pronouncements. In the matter of his suggestion that we should meet with our enemies without "pre-conditions" we fortunately have a concrete example of what happened when one of his top foreign policy advisers, Susan Rice, did just that during the Clinton presidency:
Politically correct amateurs at sharp end of US-Africa diplomacy THE dynamic duo of US-Africa policy, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Susan Rice and the National Security Council's Africa director Gayle Smith, briefed reporters in Washington last Friday on their recent 11-day, seven-country swing through the continent to "discuss" the Congo crisis. They were not convincing.
By all accounts other than their feeble own, their rundfahrt was not a smashing success. President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, the pre-eminent military power in the conflict, refused to see them. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe demonstrated his disdain by keeping them waiting for hours before granting them an audience. President Laurent Kabila of the not-so-Democratic Republic of the Congo was unprintably rude, though Rice insisted the four-and-a-half-hour session ended "cordially".
They had more success in Uganda and Rwanda, evidently, persuading the latter's vice-president, Paul Kagame, to admit what everyone already knew - that he had troops in Congo. Obtaining this confession seems to have been the towering achievement of their journey.
Rice stressed that she and Smith had embarked with no "pre-cooked US plan" for ending the conflict but rather to "listen, learn and share ideas". That is what diplomats often say under such circumstances, but in this case, it is all too true.
There is a yawning absence of strategic thinking - or even a half-baked plan - on the administration's part about how to deal with the Central African quagmire.