Obama’s Anemic Approach to Foreign Policy

by on June 9th, 2009

Our understanding of leadership inevitably takes us down the road which intersects with character, principles, and values. Each American president had a public persona and agenda that reflected some mix of these vital elements, each of which differed in degrees that distinguished their presidencies, as well as highlighted their triumphs and failures.

During the campaign and since his election, we were told that one of the fundamental strengths of Barack Obama is his post-political, transpartisan approach to governing, which would translate into successes, domestically and in foreign affairs. For two views of that we turn first to Eugene Robinson, writing in today’s Washington Post.

For Robinson, we can distill leadership down to certain key components, beginning with Obama’s personal narrative and the way his unique ancestral influences have contributed to his universal appeal. Coupled with another vital facet of the ideal leader–humility–which, in Robinson’s view, was absent in the prior president and which led to America acting in ways “contrary to our ideals,” and you have the complete 21st century leader.

What’s intriguing about Robinson’s analysis is the studied absence of the principles that won two world wars and the Cold War last century, that overcame the blight of slavery and led to a strong and unwavering insistence upon civil rights for all. Rather, he focuses, rather narrowly, on Obama’s adroit, new age view of the world, a place which obligates America to apologize for itself, to meekly assume her place among dozens of other nations, which also demands a revision of history as sweeping as Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.

There’s also an ignorant irony in Robinson’s implied argument that Obama set a new tone in his Cairo speech by stating that America is not at war with Islam. There are too many instances to quote, but this was a theme former President Bush maintained throughout his tenure, and it’s the height of hypocrisy that liberals such as Robinson are so ideologically incandescent concerning the Obama-phenomenon that he doesn’t have the–yes, humility–to admit the truth.

Another paradoxical truth is how the left lionizes emotion over substance. Robinson becomes teary-eyed when recounting the audience member in Cairo who shouted “We love you!” at Obama, comparing it with obvious disdain with the shoe-throwing spectacle during President Bush’s news conference in Iraq. So, we have Obama who, as a senator, authored legislation that mandated the removal of all American combat forces by March of 2008, just when the surge was having a positive impact, who, to this day, minimizes the fact that a butcher is no longer installed as chief tyrant of 25 million people, who erroneously called Afghanistan a war of necessity, and who stunned our moral sensibilities by comparing the slaughter of 6 million Jews to the injustices the Palestinians have suffered for the past 60 years. And, this is the man Robinson touts as a Messiah?

For a bracing antidote, let’s have a look at this piece by Patrick Buchanan. Although there are many issues where he and I would diverge, sometimes dramatically, in general Buchanan’s reading of history, which he deftly applies to current challenges, is at once credible and thoughtful.

I’ll let his piece speak for itself, but, since we’re on the subject of truths, it’s irrefutably true that no American president has ever prevailed in a regional or global conflict with a foreign policy that effectively denigrates his own nation. There’s a time and place for apologies and national self-criticism, but they shouldn’t be woven into a national narrative thematically expressed in speeches on foreign soil.

Especially in a time when America’s civic resolve is frayed its national security is challenged.

Mella is editor of ClearCommentary.com.

Philip Mella