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Obama’s Foreign Policy: From Chaps and Spurs to Toe Shoes and a Tutu

John on October 2, 2009 at 10:30 am

Krauthammer is worth reading today, as he is every Friday:

On Sept. 24, Obama ostentatiously presided over the Security Council. With 14 heads of state (or government) at the table, with an American president at the chair for the first time ever, with every news camera in the world trained on the meeting, it would garner unprecedented worldwide attention.

Unknown to the world, Obama had in his pocket explosive revelations about an illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. The French and the British were urging him to use this most dramatic of settings to stun the world with the revelation and to call for immediate action.

Obama refused…Why forgo the opportunity? Because Obama wanted the Security Council meeting to be about his own dream of a nuclear-free world. The president, reports the New York Times citing “White House officials,” did not want to “dilute” his disarmament resolution “by diverting to Iran.”

Diversion? It’s the most serious security issue in the world. A diversion from what? From a worthless U.N. disarmament resolution?

Yes. And from Obama’s star turn as planetary visionary: “The administration told the French,” reports the Wall Street Journal, “that it didn’t want to ‘spoil the image of success’ for Mr. Obama’s debut at the U.N.”

President in a tutuI dislike realpolitik intensely. It’s the idea that practical concerns should always precede moral or ideological concerns. It’s the sort of thing that prevents us from doing anything about Darfur or other disasters in the making. Not practical.

But Obama seems to have veered over into the ditch on the other side of the road. This isn’t realpolitik, it’s idealpolitik. In idealpolitik, you don’t let practicality enter in to the decision at all. His stupid promise to negotiate with Ahmedinejad “without preconditions” during the campaign turns out to have been not a gaffe but a window into his foreign policy objectives.

Obama wants to talk nice. Talking nice is a lot easier than talking tough or bending arms. It also leads your friends and adversaries to conclude you’re not living in the real world because in the real world nice doesn’t always cut it.

France hated George Bush’s foreign policy for being too “cowboy,” but as Krauthammer indicates, they now see Obama’s efforts as too ballerina. He’s dancing about the world stage in toe shoes, flitting from one embarrassing failure to the next. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tries he can’t spin nearly as fast as those damned Iranian centrifuges. The clock is ticking, Mr. President. This is not Swan Lake. Man up before the curtain comes down with a boom!

Isn’t there some middle ground Obama has overlooked? He doesn’t have to embrace George Bush’s flinty, Western approach to foreign policy (though he has embraced many of his WOT initiatives). He could, however, show a little less ideological leg and a little more backbone.

If I’m forced to choose between two extremes, I much prefer American in chaps to America in a tutu.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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