Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What the facts tell us about President Obama's approach to foreign policy

Amidst all the reactions to current events that attempt to play things for partisan spin, or confirm an existing false narrative, or generate link bait, I thought it would be helpful to simply lay out a couple of facts and build our analysis on them.

On Syria, lets remember that for almost 2 years now President Obama has been fighting off the hawks - even in his own administration (yes, that includes Hillary Clinton) - to avoid getting involved because, as the President said last night: "we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force." That one piece of information alone should make the idiots claiming he's a warmonger STFU.

Now we learn that the proposed diplomatic solution that some people suggest simply dropped out of the sky a few days ago is something the Obama administration has been proposing to the Russians for almost a year now (even before the Assad regime used chemical weapons on August 21st). For those who insist on trying to be mind readers to get at the President's real motives rather than just take him at his word - this indicates that his main concern has always been about Assad's chemical weapons.

Any analysis that leaves out either one of those facts is most likely based on mythology or projection. Its as simple as that.

It strikes me that this country is collectively struggling with shedding the idea that the US gets to dictate the outcome of every difficult situation on the planet. The neocons don't want to let go of the premise at all. And the libertarian left sees the old pattern - even when it isn't there. We hear constantly that the general public is "war weary" based on these past misadventures.

What President Obama has been laying out in his Syrian policy is an engagement in the world that rejects warmongering as a solution but also suggests that isolation is dangerous. He wants to promote diplomatic solutions that allow the people of Syria to decide their own fate while upholding the norms against the use of chemical weapons.

If that sounds like a "confusing" policy to anyone - its probably because engaging as a partner rather than assuming our own dominance militarily requires nuance and complexity. As Americans, we're not used to that in our foreign policy. But President Obama is asking us to move beyond the past and deal with the current reality.
Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.


  1. We, the human collective, are evolving an inability to recognize honesty in one another. Evidence of wide spread cynicism can be seen in our public reactions to President Obama. I don't believe it’s warranted or accidental.

    The fields of Public opinion have become industrial farms for raising psychologically engineered, reality resistant, obedient herds of human collateral, who are driven left and right by sinister shepherds, hungry for excess, driven by runaway ambition and given up to dark amusement.

  2. "When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk"

    like he said oh-so-long ago at the convention speech, "i AM my brother's keeper". he takes that shit SERIOUSLY. serious like a heart attack. or using the military.

  3. American's (some of them anyway) just cannot grasp any thing this President is trying to do.That includes some of the Dems in congress too. He is so true on how he states all of this and most people just can't grasp it. They think nothing of sharing pictures on their cell phones.iphones world wide, bur can't graasp that what we share globally, people react globally. Duh!!!
    Thank you again Smartypants for your sound analysis. You & Spandan really put this all together.

  4. In the case of most Americans, if an issue doesn't have something to do with a reality show, they aren't interested, such are the minds of citizens in what republicans call an "exceptional" nation. Little do his detractors on the left and right realize that PBO was speaking directly to them last night when he mentioned that an exceptional nation has to demonstrate to the world why it is exceptional. What many republicans and democrats don't understand about PBO is that his principles are enduring. They don't change because a particular politician says something or because there's a republican in the WH, or because a "news" network takes a certain position on an issue, and they don't change because of the sh*t that some democrats and most republicans fling at him. If only more Americans would emulate our president, imo, we would truly be an exceptional nation.


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