John on February 16, 2009 at 8:57 am
Victor Davis Hanson nails it as usual:
First, President Obama in his al-Arabiya interview castigated past American foreign policy, suggested the onus of poor Islamic-Western relations was on the United States, and promised a new foreign policy of dialogue and listening. Then Joe Biden went to Munich and blathered on about hitting the reset button of foreign-policy, using more of the platitudes of “Bush did it“ that we‘ve come to associate with the first months of the Obama administration. Secretary of State Clinton completed the trifecta on her first tour when she cleared her throat with the now customary “too often in the recent past . . . (fill in the blanks with being too ideological, unilateral, insensitive, etc.).“
So the world can now expect a break with the awful past, and the start of some brilliant new multilateral approach? Instead, I think, it will quickly assume that the healer Barack Obama, as the new messiah, will vote “Present!“ on many of the crises to come, and would no more wish to play the role of global enforcer than he would have impolitely walked out of one of Rev. Wright‘s hate-filled sermons.
Will Obama and company, through inspired diplomacy, solve any lingering tension from the Bush administration over missile defense in Europe, the soon-to-be Iranian bomb and missiles, or the European so-so role in Afghanistan? Will they find a novel, kinder, and gentler way to thwart possible al-Qaeda Mumbai-copycat killers here at home, to defang North Korea, to talk sense to the Russians to stay in their confining borders, and to persuade Hamas to act more like Fatah?
I seriously doubt it. Instead, this serial apologizing, promising a new age of listening and togetherness, and trashing the Bush administration will have two consequences: Enemies will begin to think there is a tad less likelihood now that the U.S. will respond forcefully to a terrorist attack (since “Bush did it“ in the past) without first consulting allies, trying to find a diplomatic solution, or going to the U.N.; and, second, friends will slacken a bit, knowing that our prime interest is in the means of multilateralism rather than any objective ends: one now “dialogues“ over troops in Afghanistan, and “discusses“ whether to follow through on missile defense, and “listens“ to “all the parties“ like Syria and Iran for “constructive“ suggestions about Middle East peace. In short, a bad idea to trash the past when much of it was good, and point happily to the future when it may well be far worse.
We are setting ourselves up for a repeat of Jimmy Carter‘s “Our kindness and intellect will save the world,“ but this second time as farce.
I made pretty much this same argument in a discussion with my mother the other night (she’s an Obama voter). I made the Carter comparison and actually predicted a new hostage situation involving Americans in the near future. It’s what they do. We’re setting the table for Carter II.
Category: Foreign Affairs |