January 24, 2018

KYLE SMITH: The Final Year Reveals the Obama Administration’s Naïvety and Arrogance.

The Obama foreign-policy masters see their three accomplishments as the Paris Climate Accord, the opening to Cuba, and the Iran deal. Given that the former wasn’t presented to Congress for approval, was nonbinding, and was later dumped by President Trump, while the other two amounted to making concessions to American foes in exchange for virtually nothing, this is a bit like bragging that you suckered the Franklin Mint into giving up a souvenir Elvis plate for only $34.95. But to understand why Rhodes and Obama are so pleased with their foreign policy, you have to understand the way they think. The documentary is revealing about that.

Rhodes’ rhetorical trick, which he shared with Obama, was to use a favored trope of the center-right in service of knocking down a strawman. “[Obama] has been saying for ten years that American exceptionalism is rooted in what we stand for and how we act and not just in our ability to impose our will on people,” Rhodes says, as if anyone is arguing that American exceptionalism equals steamrolling other countries like Hitler.

Rhodes is an arc man: There’s this Mighty Arc of History (™), see, and everything naturally bends toward it. (In Vietnam, Rhodes coaches Kerry how to talk about the trip: “I think the main thing for them is drawing the arc of progress like how far this place has come and how tied that is with the relationship with us.”) The Arc is indistinguishable from a progressive vision of the future, so if you do nothing, everything just gets more progressive by itself. That’s how it works in theory, anyway.

Naïvety, meet arrogance.

It was eight years of dorm-room bull session as Great Power foreign policy.

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