Monday, March 31, 2014

Walter Russell Mead, Again: Obama Totally Unrealistic, Ineffective, But Awesome Nonetheless

I have chronicled my frustrations with Walter Russell Mead before.  His contribution in the weekend WSJ brought about the same frustrations.

If you have to paraphrase the whole piece, it would go something like this:  "Obama is truly awsome.  His policies are completely unrealistic, ineffectively pursued, and the combination is often dangerous, but, man, is he awesome for thinking such good thoughts."

Just a few fisking-type comments.  Mead says:
The president has extremely ambitious goals but is unusually parsimonious when it comes to engagement.
Sounds to me like WRm is describing an airy dreamer who is lazy.  But, hey, that's OK because...
Commendably, President Obama is not satisfied with the global status quo and wants a world fundamentally different than the one we live in. He wants a world in which poverty is on the wane, international law is respected, and the U.S., if it must lead, can do so on the cheap, and from behind.
To get to this world, Mr. Obama wants nuclear proliferation stopped, new arms-control agreements ratified, and the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons. He wants a tough global climate treaty that will keep carbon emissions at levels low enough to prevent further global warming. He wants the Arab-Israeli dispute settled and a new relationship with Iran. He wants terrorism to be contained and Afghanistan to be stable when the Americans leave. He wants to reassert U.S. power in the Pacific, and to see China accept the territorial status quo. He wants democracy advanced, human rights protected, poverty reduced, women empowered, and lesbians and gays treated better world-wide. 
But Mead negates all this, rightly claiming it is so much lefty pie in the sky.
Who wouldn't want an easier life in a nicer world?...His appealing vision of an easy, cheap and beautiful world order helps build expectations that no real world president can achieve.
Yeah, don't we all want such things?  Thinking happy thoughts is the mark of a serious leader?  Yet somehow WRM clings to the notion that Obama's rhetoric is sincere, that this is a great man with a great vision, rather than internalizing five years of evidence telling us that Obama employs nice-sounding talk with no basis in reality simply to numb and deaden Americans' senses - or otherwise stated, he's a bullshit artist.  We're shown that conclusion but we're not allowed to make it.  Mead actually thinks there is serious pondering, analyzing, and reevaluating going on within Obama's head and within his policy making apparatus.
Mr. Obama came into office telling voters what they badly wanted to hear, which was that on foreign policy, they could have it all. No risks to be run, no adversarial great powers to oppose, and no boots on the ground. Now he must tell them that he, and they, were wrong, and he must choose. Does he give up on some of his dreams for improving the world, or does he begin to urge the country to pay a higher price and run greater risks to make the world better and safer?
We're not given the obvious choice - that Obama has been winging it and bullshitting his way through five years of foreign policy improvisation - because WRM thinks Obama is, like, totally, going to get it right.

Looks alot like some bitter-clinging to me.


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