Skip to comments.Obama’s World: Embrace and Appeasement, not Realism
Posted on 02/07/2014 8:00:27 AM PST by AU72
Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian. Heywood Campbell Broun .
I dont think its hard to understand Obamas foreign policy. Although theres a lot we dont know about him, his basic impulses are clear enough. Hes told us what they are (although, to be sure, he often misleads and obfuscates ), and his actions are in keeping with his announced impulses. Furthermore, theres nothing unique or surprising about them you can hear them in our classrooms and our college dorms, and read them in the establishment press every day. Hes an establishment member in high standing.
He believes that most of the serious problems in the world are the result of past American actions. Call it imperialism. Call it meddling. Call it arrogance (as the Iranians do). Whatever you call it, it means that pre-Obama policies were bad. Ergo, its mostly Bushs fault. (Shorthand for before me, they didnt understand. Anything.)
It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States. Get it out of the messes it has created. Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere. Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan. Ergo the often spectacular dissing of past allies and the embarrassing embrace of previous and actual enemies. Diss Mubarak, embrace the Muslim Brotherhood. Ergo the incredible shrinking military budget, ergo the back-of-the-hand slap to many of our greatest warriors.
It also follows that our foreign policy requires a new language, beginning with making amends for the bad policies of the past, and continuing with a dramatic realignment, aiming at creating a new alliance structure with countries we maltreated in the past. Ergo the global apology tour. Ergo the refusal to respond to insults from the likes of Hugo Chavez. Ergo the Russian reset stratagem. And ergo the Iran deal, pursued eagerly and relentlessly even before the 2008 election results were in, wrapped in terms of respect (the careful pronunciation of The Islamic Republic of Iran, for example). And ergo the rejection of American exceptionalism, putting the United States on the same moral and political platform as contemporary Greece.
Those are his core principles. Its a highly ideological policy matrix, beginning with his conviction that WE are the root cause of most bad things. Its not subtle, doesnt require mastery of nuance or even history, as his error-ridden Cairo speech demonstrated to anyone who cared to actually read it (my favorite is the claim that Muslims invented printing, when the Chinese did that, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East). Indeed, he and his minions are so uninterested in the facts of the world that they regularly invent the world, as Secretary of State Kerry did when he falsely announced that last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank. Actually there were several .
Thats what happens when an ideological vision blinds us to reality. Obamas ideology is a pidgin version of the standard leftist view, according to which class conflict is the engine of history, with the oppressors (call them the 1%) ruling it over the impoverished and alienated poor (the 99%). The pre-Obama United States is the incarnation of the 1%, and most of the rest of the world, especially the poor, or underdeveloped world, make up the 99%. Obama and his followers have a romantic attachment to the 99%, and his many calls for fairness apply to his international impulses as well as to his domestic passions.
This notion of class conflict may have explained European history for a period right after the industrial revolution, but it has little to do with the globalized world we live in. Since it does not explain the world, people who believe it are very poorly placed to make sensible policy, either domestic or international. Yet those who believe it continue to embrace the happy thought that they are morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, as Fred Siegel elaborates in his wonderful new book  The Revolt Against the Masses.
We have been told that Obama considers himself so smart that he is bored with the problems that afflict the real world. He evidently thinks hes got the answers. If you suggest that hes failing, he lifts his chin and mentally tosses you into the they dont get it pot.
Obama is actually easy to understand, although plenty of smart people keep trying to find other explanations. Of late, Peter Foster , Lee Smith  and Mike Doran  have been hard at it, looking for new ways to explain Obamas Iran policy. Lee Smith argues that Obamas a realist, and that his guru is Harvards Professor Walt. He suggests that Obama views the Middle East in old-fashioned balance-of-power terms, and accepts Iran as a major player with whom we must come to terms. Mr. Doran doesnt think Obama really cares if Iran gets the bomb, and has been bluffing all along, and Mr. Foster thinks Obama doesnt really care if the sanctions break down, since if Iran makes lots of money via deals with the P5+1 countries, they will be very reluctant to go back into the misery of the sanctions regime, thus making a final deal more likely. He quotes Wendy Sherman to that effect.
I agree with Doran and Foster, but I think their focus is too narrow. Iran policy isnt a singular effort, its part of a pattern. Obama sympathizes with the regimes ideology, he agrees that our past actions justify branding us the Great Satan, and he wants to make everything right with the mullahs. He doesnt see the regimes enmity toward America as a fixed principle, as their raison detre, and he has undertaken to change it. He has been secretly negotiating with them all along, convinced by his ideology that it will all work out. So he doesnt fear a nuclear Iran any more than I fear a nuclear Britain, France or Israel.
Lee Smiths surprising suggestion that Obamas a realist strikes me as too far out. Yes, Walt and the president agree that Israel is a terrible nuisance, but Obamas foreign policyof which Iran is just one componentis hardly realistic. Its driven by passion and a false vision of the world, not by tough-minded geopolitical analysis.
If you want a good two-word description of Obamas approach to the world, call it passionate appeasement. And go back and read the quotation at the top.
I would be wary of the worldview of Michael Ledeen, Karl Rove’s favorite. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to select a non-interventionist conservative in ‘16.
Form the article:
"It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States. Get it out of the messes it has created. Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere. Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kerry’s meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian controversy. The overriding American interest in the Mideast should be for us to extricate ourselves from that part of the world and no longer involve ourselves in the endless regional conflicts.
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