Tom Barnett and I agree on a lot (such as the use f private contractors to counter the excessive relative value given to individual lives in public discourse), but he’s wrong in his defense of Senator Barack Obama and his attacks on Senator Clinton (see posts from July 28 and July 25). Specifically, in a recent Democratic Party debate Obama said that he would freely meet with rogue leaders without preconditions, while Clinton emphasized the need for care and concern when meeting with rogue states.
Meetings with high-level American officials are goods. They benefit not only the regimes hosting the officials, but those factions within the regimes seen as orchestrating it. The opposite is also true: when American officials are too busy to visit some country or organization, the snub hurts not only the would-be host but those elements that are seen as having “lost” or “depended on” the visit.
It’s is foolish to pretend that high-level American officials have an infinite amount of time and energy, or that as much time as possible should be spent visiting our enemies instead of our friends, “on the fence states,” or even doing the other jobs they are employed to do.
Barnett’s defense of Obama is wrong, and I fear it has a lot more to do with exasperation against Senator Clinton and the “baby boomers” in general (or perhaps the physical pain Tom’s enduring) than with the validity of Obama’s statements or even Barack himself.
For a more reasonable analysis of Obama’s statement, see zenpundit‘s Obama’s lack of sea-legs in foreign policy.
Update: A social faux paus! As I’m complaining, Tom is complimenting!