Hugh White (“The new President has to tell the US ‘No, we can’t’”, Opinion, 23/1) argues for realism, not idealism in his article on future US foreign policy. But by calling for a slogan of “No, we can’t” he appears to be arguing for defeatism on a grand scale. White first proclaims GeorgeW. Bush’s objectives of “transforming Iraq, rebuilding Afghanistan, containing Russia, disarming North Korea and Iran and sustaining US primacy in Asia in the face of China’s rise” as failures and then pessimistically asks whether anyone else could have done better. A statesmanlike response, according to White, would be to simply give up all notion of a better, freer and more secure world.