Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama the Hawk?


Ross Douthat has an interesting piece at the Atlantic about the hawkish direction Obama’s administration is likely to take based on his recent appointments. He writes:
Here's a fearless prediction: On an awful lot of issues, the Obama foreign policy will end cutting to the right of Bill Clinton's foreign policy, which was already more center-left than left. Even with the GOP brand in the toilet, Republicans are still trusted as much or more than Dems on foreign policy, mostly for somewhat nebulous "toughness" reasons. So why give the Right a chance to play what's just about its only winning card, when you can satisfy your base with a phased withdrawal from Iraq that's scheduled to happen anyway while waxing hawkish on Pakistan, Afghanistan ... and who knows, maybe Iran as well? (I have a sneaking suspicion that a President Obama will be slightly more likely to authorize airstrikes against Iran than a President McCain would have been.) Meanwhile, on detainee policy, wiretapping, etc. you can earn plaudits from liberals for showily abandoning the worst excesses of the Bush era, while actually holding on to most of the post-9/11 powers that the Bushies claimed. Obama already made fans of Niall Ferguson and Eli Lake; by 2012, I wouldn't be surprised if he's converted Max Boot as well.”
The emphasis is mine. Jonah Goldberg writing for NRO, says:
“Barack Obama's signature issue in the primaries was his "good judgment" to oppose the Iraq war. He invoked this more than any other qualification in his early battles with Hillary Clinton. She may have experience, he'd charge, but she lacked the wisdom to oppose the war. Indeed, the whole Democratic establishment was somehow corrupt or out of touch for not opposing the war, according to the Obamaphiles. So now Barack Obama is going to appoint Hillary Clinton to be the chief architect of his foreign policy.

...It will be interesting to see how long Obama's charisma can paper over reality.”
It is still too early to discern the direction Obama will push our nation’s foreign policy once he is behind the wheel and maneuvering through the global political landscape, but his appointments do speak volumes about its fundamental attitude. Throughout the campaign, the differences between Obama and Hillary on social and economic issues were minuscule; their major disagreement was over Iraq and American foreign policy. Obama capitalized on the unpopularity of the Iraq War, and made the case that he was right to oppose it will his opponent could not be trusted for supporting it.

And now, she is going to head his Department of State, in a position where her apparent “lack of judgment” can most affect future policy decisions?

Either Obama has had a recent ideological change of heart, or was never opposed to Clinton’s outlook, and simply skewered her position for political gain.

None the less, I am pleasantly surprised by Obama’s appointments thus far.

Update:
Sultin Kinish sees her appointment as a way for Obama to deflect criticism away form himself. He writes:
"As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will carry most of the weight and blame for what will happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, making her into a highly visible lighting rod for the Anti-War camp, which is already assailing Obama."

1 comment:

Peter Stanton said...

It's kind of awe-inspiring to think about the possibility that the Obama administration's actions may create a fundamental shift in American politics and usher in an age Democratic dominance - the kind of lasting victory Karl Rove dreamed of for the Republicans. I think Obama could actually move towards that if he makes his party the more trusted on issues of security. Then there is also health care. If Obama succeeds in ensuring reliable quality health care through government there could really be a shift to the left for America as has been seen in other countries. And there might be no turning back.