Is Obama Wrecking Our Foreign Policy on Purpose?

I borrowed that title from Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, because it’s better than anything I could come up with. Norman Podhoretz opines in the Wall Street Journal that Obama’s crappy performance domestically and abroad is all just part of his left-wing radical plan to knock America down a few notches. So far, it looks like he’s succeeding quite well: the economy is a disaster, and we are quickly becoming a foreign policy laughingstock to our allies and enemies in the rest of the world.

So far as domestic affairs were concerned, it soon became clear—even to some of those who had persuaded themselves that Mr. Obama was a moderate and a pragmatist—that the fundamental transformation he had in mind was to turn this country into as close a replica of the social-democratic countries of Europe as the constraints of our political system allowed.

Since he had enough support for the policies that this objective entailed, those constraints were fairly loose, and so he only needed a minimum of rhetorical deception in pursuing it. All it took was to deny he was doing what he was doing by frequently singing the praises of the free-enterprise system he was assiduously working to undermine, by avoiding the word “socialism,” by invoking “fairness” as an overriding ideal and by playing on resentment of the “rich.”

But foreign policy was another matter. As a left-wing radical, Mr. Obama believed that the United States had almost always been a retrograde and destructive force in world affairs. Accordingly, the fundamental transformation he wished to achieve here was to reduce the country’s power and influence. And just as he had to fend off the still-toxic socialist label at home, so he had to take care not to be stuck with the equally toxic “isolationist” label abroad.

This he did by camouflaging his retreats from the responsibilities bred by foreign entanglements as a new form of “engagement.” At the same time, he relied on the war-weariness of the American people and the rise of isolationist sentiment (which, to be sure, dared not speak its name) on the left and right to get away with drastic cuts in the defense budget, with exiting entirely from Iraq and Afghanistan, and with “leading from behind” or using drones instead of troops whenever he was politically forced into military action.

The consequent erosion of American power was going very nicely when the unfortunately named Arab Spring presented the president with several juicy opportunities to speed up the process. First in Egypt, his incoherent moves resulted in a complete loss of American influence, and now, thanks to his handling of the Syrian crisis, he is bringing about a greater diminution of American power than he probably envisaged even in his wildest radical dreams.

Read the rest: Norman Podhoretz: Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure – WSJ.com.

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1 comment
  1. MulroyBay said:

    Obama is an intermittently golden-voiced garden variety politician. You don’t get to the Presidency without a certain amount of skill- and luck. Viewing the US foreign policy challenges as a mark of some radical left master plan is just partisan nonsense.

    But to be fair, the liberal wing of the country did the same with Bush. You will find no end of thoughtful pieces about how Bush totally trashed our international reputation and squandered lives and fortune on an unnecessary war in Iraq whose consequences still haunt our influence today. Go back further and you have the Clinton scandals, Bush’s failure to follow through, Reagan’s terrorist-funding adventures, Carter’s ineptitude, Ford’s loss of Vietnam, Nixon’s illegal bombing. There is no end to what a partisan mind can find. There is even some controversy about whether the War of 1812 made sense dimly flickering in some academic byways.

    But one of the reasons the right has been so ineffectual against Obama is that the strawman radical they have constructed to oppose bears little resemblance to the actual man in the White House. It is a fine way to make a living as a public intellectual, but it is intellectual slumming with a long history… and it has never worked before.

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