Obama, a Fool or a Naif on Foreign Policy

Those who remember 2000 remember George Bush’s quixotic pursuit of “human dignity,” whil Gore talked about “human rights.” The reason was that Bush wanted a non-interventionist foreign policy that would let us stay home. “Human rights” is associated with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, and implies obligations. “Human Dignity” is a squishy concept that means nothing, so the Bush 2000 campaign embraced it.

So does the Bush ’08 campaign, incarnated in the form of Barack Obama:

Obama never uses the soaring language of Bush’s freedom agenda, preferring instead to talk about enhancing people’s economic prospects, civil society and—his key word—”dignity.” He rejects Bush’s obsession with elections and political rights, and argues that people’s aspirations are broader and more basic—including food, shelter, jobs. “Once these aspirations are met,” he told The New York Times’s James Traub, “it opens up space for the kind of democratic regimes we want.” This is a view of democratic development that is slow, organic and incremental, usually held by conservatives.

Fareed Zakaria’s latest piece,which includes that piece of Bush IIIism from Barack Obama, is disturbing reading. Either Obama is a fool or a naif, or Zakaria is complicit in deceiving the American people.

I think all three are true.

  • Obama would be a fool if he actualyl believed in “realism,” an economics-ignorant school of foreign policy which is concerned with questions such as how to balance against Germany, what we should do when France begins mining our harbors, etc.
  • Obama is a naif if he supports “realism” because Daily Kos thinks its cool.
  • Zakaria is deceiving the American people if he believes that Obama believes something else — for instance, if he believes in Functionalism or Idealism — and is calling that Realism because Daily Kos thinks its cool.

Obama is so unsure of what he believes with regards to foreign polic that Obama has hired 300 people to tell him what to think. This is a typical mistake of naifs who know they are naive: they think knowledge is like a bucket of water, so the more you have in one room, the more you have. It’s the fallacy of the mythical man month, a concept I expect Obama has never heard about.

Update: Tom is impressed, but does not say why.