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January 04, 2009

Comments

Nato

Honestly, how much can Obama say on current and fast-paced foreign affairs without seriously jogging the Bush administration's elbow? Obama can either say he supports whatever Bush is doing, or keep quiet. Anything else is going to create a mess.

Nathan Smith

It wouldn't be hard for a clever and idealistic politician. He could start hammering out foreign policy doctrines, for example, probably somewhat abstract and ambiguously related to current developments so that it left the Bush administration some room to maneuver, and also providing points of contact, or perhaps tension, with whatever actions the Bush administration takes right now. This could be helpful to the Bush administration, which has the problem of any lame-duck administration that its actions cannot credibly signal commitment. A strong foreign policy vision from the Obama team would be a useful guide to the Bush administration as it tries to manage immediate problems while engineering a smooth transition.

Hammering out a foreign policy doctrine, however, requires a form of clear thinking and courage which Obama has never displayed. Indeed, the "reality-based" mantra adopted by much of the left-- in contrast with the Bush administration's supposed sin of "ideology"-- is at odds with the very possibility of formulating foreign policy doctrines, which by their nature are somewhat general and moralistic (i.e., ideological), and suggests a bias in favor of knee-jerk empiricism (which, among other problems, will make it easy for others to manipulate us). Given Obama's capacities and attitudes, I guess I'd agree that golfing is probably the highest-value-added use of his time.

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