He pronounces that nonproliferation treaties and disarmament efforts by the U.S. will encourage North Korea and Iran to give up their nuclear plans. Neither the Cold War experience nor the development and spread of nuclear programs among these rogue states (all while the U.S. nuclear arsenal was declining) suggests this is a viable plan. But we must have faith.
Nowhere is fact-less policy more in evidence than in our Middle East policy. As Elliot Abrams details, Obama’s Middle East policy “is in fact following a highly ideological policy path” built on denial of the very real threat posed by Iran’s acquisition of nuclear power and the fiction that the key to unlocking peace resides in Israel’s unilaterally freezing all settlement growth. He observes:
A recent International Monetary Fund report stated that “macroeconomic conditions in the West Bank have improved” largely because “Israeli restrictions on internal trade and the passage of people have been relaxed significantly.” What’s more, says the IMF, “continuation of the relaxation of restrictions could result in real GDP growth of 7 percent for 2009 as a whole.” That’s a gross domestic product growth rate Americans would leap at, so what’s this dispute about?
It is, once again, about the subordination of reality to preexisting theories. In this case, the theory is that every problem in the Middle East is related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The administration takes the view that “merely” improving life for Palestinians and doing the hard work needed to prepare them for eventual independence isn’t enough. Nor is it daunted by the minor detail that half of the eventual Palestine is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.
In all these discrete areas Obama comes to the issue with a preexisting belief system — cops engage in racial profiling, government-run health care will be cheaper, government spending creates wealth, disarmament impresses aggressors, Israel’s settlements are the central problem in the Middle East — which requires Herculean efforts to rewrite or ignore history and economic realities.
Unlike Obama, the public can see the world as it is and recall history as it actually occurred. We know carbon emissions will only increase so long as India and China refuse to shackle their own economies. We know Keynesian boondoggle spending doesn’t work to pull us out of recessions — and hasn’t created any jobs this time around. We know Israel has withdrawn from land in hopes of achieving peace (in Gaza most recently) and offered the Palestinians their own state. But such data is irrelevant, a nuisance to be swept away, as Obama pursues his liberal vision here and abroad.
Despite his disdain for facts, Obama cannot evade reality indefinitely. Unemployment figures and polling data are real. Deficit figures are real. And the public’s unease with political zealotry is real as well. Unless Obama gives up his aversion to empirical evidence, the voters will deliver a dose of reality.
After all, unlike religion, the people get the final say in politics.