Obama's World View vs Reality
by Tom Donelson on March 26, 2011 at 9:56 AM
What is the Obama doctrine? The recent mess in Libya is symptomatic of Obama's foreign policy, a policy based on the hard left world view, but a world view colliding with realty.
Obama came into the White House with the idea that the world is so fed up with Bush’s “cowboy doctrine” that he needed to apologize for ills, real or imagined. (It should be pointed out that Bush cobbled together significant foreign support, but while he went to the UN before the Gulf War, he never allowed the UN to determine or veto American foreign policy.)
There have been three world views forming the basis of American foreign policy. The majority held that America was an exceptional nation good for the world and had a willingness to defend our national interest, while defining those interests widely. This included working with alliances worldwide in the defense of Freedom. You can call this view an Empire of Liberty, in which America's power provided an umbrella for liberty to nurture worldwide starting in Europe and expanding throughout the world.
This vision didn’t include intervention everywhere but the willingness to intervene where our interest was threatened. This vision was the prevailing view from the end of World War II through the Vietnam War when the left separated the Democrat Party from the consensus. During the 80’s, Democrats like Texas Charlie Wilson still supported the consensus. The Clinton Administration surrendered to the consensus post Gulf War I, when moderate Democrats maintained influence after the left failed to get Hillary care passed and the Democrats lost their shirt in the 1994 elections. This allowed moderate Democrats to take policy back from the left, then represented by Hillary Clinton and this consensus held through the 2000 election and the ran up to the second Gulf War. In 1998, a congressional resolution called for regime change in Iraq and passed with overwhelming support from both Parties.
The second vision is a leftist world view that has now come to dominate the Democratic Party today. This vision was accurately summed up by George McGovern in his acceptance speech at the 1972 Democratic convention, “Come home America.” The leftist view is an isolationist view in which America should restrain from interfering in world affairs and that it is America polluting the world with its crass materialistic ideals. Vietnam War began the process in which the left challenged the cold war liberal Democratic worldview. John F. Kennedy would represent the hawkish liberal Democratic politician part of the America is good worldview and his younger brother, Edward Kennedy would join the other side and help destroy the old cold war liberal warrior ideals of his older brother. Liberalism went from "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can for your country", and "We will bear any price" to how quickly can we get socialized medicine.
This leftist worldview became standard Democratic policy in 2003 when leftist money men just like George Soros funded the left's final takeover of the Democratic Party, thus ending moderate Democrats as part of the Party hierarchy. As it has been said about John Kerry, he was for the Gulf war before he was against it and much of this was due to the complete takeover of the left.
In the 2008 election, there was very little difference in foreign policy between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but the left loved Obama for he was one of them. As for Hillary Clinton, she supported the second Gulf War and there was this suspicion that if push came to shove, she would desert the left as she did on the recent Libya conflict.
Obama is the poster boy for the leftist world view and Ron Paul would be the present poster boy for the third worldview, an isolationist conservative world view, a world view that has existed for the past century. This view is similar to the left worldview, “America come home” but for the conservative adherence of this worldview, it is the world that pollutes America and America's involvement in the world also means bigger government at home. The right may hate American military adventurism but they don’t view America as an evil empire but a good nation adversely affected by the world.
The problem with Obama is that his worldview has come into conflict with reality of the world as it is and not as he was taught by his leftwing professors. As Libya showed, when America doesn’t lead, bad things happen.
One can argue whether attacking Libya is good or bad since an argument can be made to act or not to act, a point I made in a recent blog. The problems with Obama's doctrine is that it can’t explain action either way nor has Obama explained clearly what our policy is in the Middle East, much less in the world. In his first year, he played nice with Hugo Chavez while undermining Honduras, when a Chavez wannabe attempted to undermine the Honduras Constitution and turn that small country into Chavez’s satellite. The reality is that he got nothing for this and Chavez now attacks Obama as he did Bush. Appeasement of the world has failed.
Libya showed the Obama worldview colliding with reality and reality not always winning. Obama quite frankly did not know what to do and he failed to enunciate any policy for he could not truly figure out which scenario fit into his worldview. Leaving Gaddafi in power would show America’s impotency but the rebels’ goals were not clearly understood.
He eventually relented to Hillary Clinton, who returned to her husband's stance during the Balkans including Kosovo from 1995 to 1998; a liberal version of America is good for the world viewpoint. (It should be pointed out that Clinton never got UN approval for his intervention in the Balkans and instead worked through NATO.) No one truly understands what his endgame is since he has yet to explain why intervening in Libya is in our national interest. I suspect that Obama doesn’t truly know the answer to that question, and if the endgame means leaving Gaddafi in power in a temporary partition of the country, then this could lead to open ended commitment. This would merely divide our time from other areas of the Middle East as even some leftist critics have pointed out. The New York Times' Helene Cooper observed that we have greater interest in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. What we have is a foreign policy that is not just inconsistent, it is incoherent.
While the world burns in the Middle East and Japan is digging itself out of one of the worst earthquakes in history, Obama was in Brazil, supporting Brazil oil development and pledging to buy a bunch of it while we do nothing with developing our resources at home. Talking of completely being incoherent, let's buy Brazilian oil and continued our foreign dependency.
Obama came into office with ideas of transforming America’s foreign policy, but rather it was Afghanistan, Iraq or closing down Gitmo. Reality raised its head as Obama couldn’t just bug out of Iraq or Afghanistan without suffering the consequences, but Obama biggest failure is following through on his own policy.
Right now, Iraq is essentially left alone and instead of building on success, we are abandoning Iraq to the wolves of the region. Obama is looking to leave Afghanistan but will wait until after 2012 when it will be politically safer. For Obama, foreign policy involvement delays his opportunity to turn America into a European social democracy and alter the basics of America’s economic system. His long term goal is to come home to America so he can work on the socialism of America.
The Libya policy is the beginning of a fight for what is left of the soul of the Democrat Party as the Clinton’s are now countering the more radical aspect of Obama. Unfortunately for Clinton, Obama has no real clue what he wants from Libya, forcing the United States into a Libyan quicksand and which Clinton will be blamed. Clinton's recent declaration that she would not be Secretary of State in a second Clinton administration means that she is looking for an exit before she is tarred with Obama’s foreign policy failures as her own.
Ronald Reagan stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It has to be fought for and defended by each generation.” Obama needs to be reminded that he is the leader of the free world and America is not just another nation among many nations. Until he understands that, his foreign policy will fail as the leftist world view is laying the seed of disaster not just for us but for the world.