The usual chorus of President Obama detractors got a boost from an unusual source recently. Fellow Democratic Party leader and presidential candidate in waiting, Hillary Rodham Clinton, attacked Mr. Obama's foreign policy on the grounds it is a non-policy.
The president's policy earlier got a strange name. Staffers leaked the news that inner circles have taken to defining it as, "Don't do stupid shit." For the more sensitive masses, the policy is being redefined as, "Don't do stupid stuff."
Ms. Clinton said "Don't do stupid" is not an organizing principle, and great nations need organizing principles worthy of their leadership role. I beg to differ. Ms. Clinton, in my opinion, did an acceptable job as secretary of state, but she got this one wrong.
It's about time a
U.S. president decided to set aside
lofty rhetoric smacking of egotistical American "exceptionalism" and
adopted a realistic foreign policy standard. Remember how we fought to "Make the world safe for
democracy" and not may years later to establish the "Four
Freedoms" on the planet? How are those types of policy statements working
for us lately?
We could make "Don't do stupid" prettier, of course. Something like, "Carefully analyze every foreign conflict and intervene only when it is clearly in our national interest" says the same thing, and obviously states what President Obama tries to do, but certainly there's nothing catchy about it. In this case, I like the negative "don't do" better than the positive "do." For one thing, it's more fun.
Mr. Obama, with Ms. Clinton as a top foreign policy advisor, has made some boo boos, as all presidents have. A recent one was prematurely declaring, "It's time for Assad to go." He forgot that Goldilocks could be leading
and it would have little effect on American interests. He also forgot that
displacing strong dictators in the Muslim world often creates chaos. Is that
part of the world more tranquil now than it was when Saddam ruled Iraq with an
iron fist? Hardly. How's the serenity index looking in Libya nowadays?
We did what was in our interest in
Russian cooperation and good work by our more usual allies Assad's weapons of
mass destruction--lethal poison gases--a true threat to the world and thus us,
have been destroyed. We finally did what was in our interest in Iraq--we got
out. We're back now in a limited way, a far cry from the days when we invaded
the place with massive force over a pretext.
Soon we'll be out of
leaving the kids to fight it out in their sandbox as they always have. In a
strange turn of events, Assad may become part of a new coalition including the U.S. to help stabilize the Middle
East. Things might actually work out well for a change now that
the horrifically bad guys have come out of their closets and staked out some
territory where the good people can shoot and bomb the crap out of them.
"Don't do stupid stuff" has saved a lot of American lives, and quite a bit of cash we can use to better advantage elsewhere. The policy isn't a return to isolationism. It's simply a venture into reality.