Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.
—Heywood Campbell Broun.
I don’t think it’s hard to understand Obama’s foreign policy. Although there’s a lot we don’t know about him, his basic impulses are clear enough. He’s told us what they are (although, to be sure, he often misleads and obfuscates), and his actions are in keeping with his announced impulses. Furthermore, there’s nothing unique or surprising about them — you can hear them in our classrooms and our college dorms, and read them in the establishment press every day. He’s an establishment member in high standing.
He believes that most of the serious problems in the world are the result of past American actions. Call it imperialism. Call it meddling. Call it arrogance (as the Iranians do). Whatever you call it, it means that pre-Obama policies were bad. Ergo, it’s mostly Bush’s fault. (Shorthand for “before me, they didn’t understand. Anything.”)
It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States. Get it out of the messes it has created. Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere. Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan. Ergo the often spectacular dissing of past allies and the embarrassing embrace of previous and actual enemies. Diss Mubarak, embrace the Muslim Brotherhood. Ergo the incredible shrinking military budget, ergo the back-of-the-hand slap to many of our greatest warriors.
It also follows that our foreign policy requires a new language, beginning with making amends for the bad policies of the past, and continuing with a dramatic realignment, aiming at creating a new alliance structure with countries we maltreated in the past. Ergo the global apology tour. Ergo the refusal to respond to insults from the likes of Hugo Chavez. Ergo the Russian “reset” stratagem. And ergo the Iran deal, pursued eagerly and relentlessly even before the 2008 election results were in, wrapped in terms of respect (the careful pronunciation of “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” for example). And ergo the rejection of “American exceptionalism,” putting the United States on the same moral and political platform as contemporary Greece.
Those are his core principles. It’s a highly ideological policy matrix, beginning with his conviction that WE are the root cause of most bad things. It’s not subtle, doesn’t require mastery of nuance or even history, as his error-ridden Cairo speech demonstrated to anyone who cared to actually read it (my favorite is the claim that Muslims invented printing, when the Chinese did that, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East). Indeed, he and his minions are so uninterested in the facts of the world that they regularly invent the world, as Secretary of State Kerry did when he falsely announced that “last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank.” Actually there were several.