Perhaps it is all a gigantic head fake. Maybe President-elect Obama is going to dash Left as soon as he utters the words “So help me God” next week. But so far, there seems to be the most astounding and sweeping repudiation of a president’s own base of support in the offing since … well, since forever.
Bill Kristol documents the “change” — otherwise known as “continuity” — President-elect Obama is preparing us for on a raft of Bush administration international policies. The difficult task of finding an alternative to Guantanamo is going to get careful consideration, Dick Cheney has wise counsel, and Israel policy will echo the Bush and Clinton eras. That’s President-elect Obama’s take, not some Republican’s, as expressed on ABC’s This Week. Kristol writes:
[T]the Obama transition team’s chief national security spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, was denying a press report that Obama’s advisers were urging him to initiate low-level or clandestine contacts with Hamas as a prelude to change in policy. Anderson told The Jerusalem Post that the story wasn’t accurate, and reminded one and all that Obama “has repeatedly stated that he believes that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and that we should not deal with them until they recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by past agreements.”
On Iran, Obama did say he’d be taking “a new approach,” that “engagement is the place to start” with “a new emphasis on being willing to talk.” But he also reminded Stephanopoulos that the Iranian regime is exporting terrorism through Hamas and Hezbollah and is “pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” He said his willingness to talk would be combined with “clarity about what our bottom lines are” — one of them presumably being, as he’s said before, no Iranian nuclear weapons. And he demonstrated a sense of urgency — “we anticipate that we’re going to have to move swiftly in that area.”
So: After talks with Iran (if they happen) fail to curb Iran’s nuclear program, but (perhaps) impress other nations with our good faith, we’ll presumably get greater international support for sanctions. That will also (unfortunately) fail to deter Iran. “Engagement is the place to start,” Obama said, but it’s not likely to be the place Obama ends. He’ll end up where Bush is — with the choice of using force or acquiescing to the idea of a nuclear Iran.