The Arab spring quickly changed the landscape of formerly stable nations throughout the region.
From Egypt to Libya, with Syria likely next, Arab strongmen who controlled nations for decades are being overthrown by rebels in search of establishing democratic governments.
While the Obama administration works with allies to assist the citizens of those nations to build new governments, remembering the tenants of the Clinton administration's foreign policy would appear prudent.
Few decades in American history have recorded the depth of economic prosperity that developed, as did the 1990s. Among the factors contributing to America's prosperity was the Peace Dividend the country benefitted from during the terms of President Bill Clinton.
Yet, Foreign Policy is not limited to avoiding military conflicts. Foreign Policy entails developing relationships that tie countries together both as military allies and economic partners.
When President Clinton took office, the United States had in place three "free trade" agreements. When he left office the number stood at 17 including developing democracies in Africa and Central America. Foreign policy extends to not only strengthening military alliances. Often its success is measured in limiting tensions between traditional adversaries through economic interactions.
Foreign Policy can demand unpopular action undertaken for the long-term good of the nation.
President Clinton's $20 billion "bailout" of the Mexican peso in 1995 avoided a potential civil revolution and allowed our neighbors to the south time to rebuild their economy eventually repaying the entire loan with interest.
Foreign Policy under President Clinton had three core principles:
Strength extended to ensuring Americans had the military capabilities to combat major threats while prohibiting the expansion of threats to our security such as weapons of mass destruction or terrorism.
Peace as an initiative promoted globally while spreading democracy.
Open trade allowing greater wealth to be generated by our trade partners and within our nation.
The success of the Clinton White House's foreign policy is one on which the current White House would do well to consider. Peace is built on trust from long-term commitments taken seriously. Open trade cannot become a negotiating table issue alternately considered then ignored.
For the Arab Spring to be nurtured to fruition, America and her allies cannot abandon fledgling governments to their own resources. The newly forming governments of the region can proof valuable allies with the appropriate commitment of support.
The commitments made today to ensure Egypt, Libya and Syria become stable and prosperous nations are an investment with substantial long-term rewards