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Ron Radosh

The Left and Obama’s Foreign Policy

November 24th, 2008 - 11:45 am

The Left, expecting nirvana with  Barack Obama’s victory, is quickly discovering that the President-elect intends to govern from the center and apparently give them very little.  The Democratic leadership, the left asserts, has not moved to end the war, stop the bailout or end what they see as the destruction of our civil liberties. And, much to their dismay, Barack Obama successfully admonished them not to take retribution on Senator Joe Lieberman for his great heresy- support to the campaign of John McCain. As James Kirchik writes, “the leadership of the Democratic Party isn’t as petty, vindictive and small as its left-wing supporters.”

Let us look at the critical area of foreign policy and national security. The appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is an indication that Obama has chosen a person supportive of our national security interests. Clinton campaigned as a fervent hawk, a defender of America’s interests and a leader committed to Israel’s security.  It was Senator Clinton during the campaign who called for being tough on Iran, even to the extent of suggesting that if Iran moved against Israel with its coming nuclear arsenal, we would obliterate it.

What really upsets the Left, however, is what they see as Obama’s great betrayal on Iraq. Writing in The Nation, national security correspondent Robert Dreyfuss argues that Obama was seen as “the anti-war candidate,” and yet he fears that he now will claim he has no mandate to end the war and withdraw our forces quickly. Instead, Dreyfuss worries that his circle of advisers will pressure him to abandon his antiwar pledges, and are mainly “hawkish Democrats” who regard such campaign promises as bad policy. Dreyfuss sees Obama consorting with the likes of Richard Holbrooke, hawks close to Joe Biden, and assorted neoconservatives whose counsel he seeks.  Seeing a potential showdown with his military advisers, whom Dreyfuss sees as supporters of General David Petraeus, he has a solution. Order them to pullout our troops as promised, or fire Petraeus and the Joint Chiefs just as Harry Truman fired Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

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