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Ron Radosh

The Left and Obama’s Foreign Policy

November 24th, 2008 - 11:45 am

There is a major difference, however, between what MacArthur attempted during Korea and what Petraeus and the others advocate today. In the midst of battle, MacArthur countered policy and sought to take the war to China proper behind the Yalu River, thus risking a war with both China and the Soviet Union. Petraeus shifted policy to successfully implement Bush Administration policy by changing the results in Iraq, thereby lowering American deaths, stabilizing the country, and creating a situation that enhanced the chances of success for the existing policy.

The Left is also worried about the likelihood that Obama will keep Republican Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Gates supported the surge, and is of course identified with the Petraeus policy the Left dislikes so much. Most Americans will be pleased that the appointment of Gates indicates that Obama means to govern with a bi-partisan foreign policy consensus.

I have not read Robert Dreyfuss incorrectly. Just yesterday, he wrote that his hunches that Obama wants to “preside over a restoration of the bipartisan consensus that governed foreign policy during the cold war and the 1900s, updated for a post-9/11 world,” is correct.  He sees Obama as an enemy, as a man who wants to increase military spending, boost the size of the armed forces, expand our intelligence agencies and maintain US bases all over the globe. Reading Dreyfuss, one might think that it was not John McCain, but Barack Obama, who in foreign policy is Bush III. He even fears that Obama might even strengthen the National Endowment for Democracy, the quasi-governmental agency that acts to strengthen civil society agencies abroad that promote democracy. Led by Carl Gershman, once Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s assistant Ambassador to the UN during the Reagan presidency, the NED is the quintessential neo-con boogeyman of the Left.

So Dreyfuss asks; “Are we surprised that the views of Obama’s conservative and centrist advisers are, in fact, coherent with Obama’s own? And are we surprised that his choices for his foreign policy and national security appointments are drawn exclusively from conservative, centrist and pro-military circles without even a single [one]…chosen to represent the antiwar wing of the Democratic party?” Dreyfuss even worries that under Obama, the US might take “tough military action overseas in case of humanitarian crisis,” particularly in the Sudan. My God, he might even act like Jack Bauer in last night’s episode of “24:The Redemption.”

Dreyfuss’ colleague at the Nation, Christopher Hayes, complains that “not a solitary, actual dyed-in-the-wool progressive has…even been mentioned for a position in the new administration. Not one.”  Hayes thinks that the election showed that the consensus on all issues “came from the left.” Evidently, like all the ideologues on that publication, he ignores that in poll after poll the majority of the electorate identified themselves  as moderate,  centrist, or even conservative- and not supporters of the left. Hayes, like others on the Left, confuse their own certainty and ideology with that of the nation at large. It is fortunate for us that for now President-elect Obama seems not to agree.

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