“From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
“There is such a gap between how one lives and how one ought to live that anyone who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation: for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
George W. Bush defined success in foreign policy by how much he achieved for America. Barack Obama seems to define success by how many people across the world chant his name. This sort of needy “if you’ll be my friend, I’ll let you swim in my pool” mentality is a common failing of modern liberals. They are so hemmed in by the ridiculous rules they’ve set up for themselves, it’s almost impossible for them to effectively deal with foreign threats.
Most liberals — Barack Obama included — have bought into the Chomskyian idea that the United States is the root of all evil in the world. They believe that the weaker party in a conflict — by virtue of being weaker — must almost certainly be right. They feel that military power should be used for the collective welfare of all humanity, not to benefit our nation. They’re also believers in transnationalism and ceding the sovereignty of individual nations to international bodies like the United Nations.
The problem with beliefs of this sort is twofold. First, they’re completely at odds with the way the world really works. Second, they severely limit our potential foreign affairs options. Ironically, even though liberal Democrats don’t understand the limits of their beliefs, other nations seem to understand perfectly. That’s why, for example, Pakistan sided with Bush over the Taliban but has sided with the Taliban over Obama. It’s why the Somali pirates didn’t have the cajones to take an American ship while Bush was president, but have started going all “Pirates of the Caribbean” on American shipping since Obama’s election. If you’re wondering why Kyrgyzstan decided to stop allowing us to use a key military base for re-supplying Afghanistan, that’s why. There’s much to be said for talking softly and carrying a big stick, but nothing to be said for setting the stick down and just talking softly.
That’s not to say that every foreign policy challenge we have is related to Obama’s weakness and the limitations of his ultra-liberal ideology. Every president faces difficulties on the foreign policy front. But Obama enters every situation with both hands tied behind his back, and it forces him to do foolish and desperate things to get a reaction.