“If Nixon could go to China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, which was a hundred times more brutal and appalling than anything we have seen in Iran over the last few days, Obama can and should persist in engaging Iran.” ~ Daniel Larison talking some sense
I think it’s interesting to read Robert Kagan’s latest through the realist/idealist lens that Larison provides in this piece. Much more vital to the future of our foreign policy is the debate playing out along those lines rather than the silly, almost outdated “liberal/conservative” divisions. Yes, both liberals and conservatives like to frame the debate in those terms, but it’s important to understand that the real policy decisions both domestically and abroad will be made not from within some “liberal” or “conservative” framework at all.
The liberal hawks and the neocons, however much they posture and squabble, are a united front. Policy will be determined more by the federal government’s and especially the executive’s approach to internationalism and America’s place both economically and militarily in the world. It will be interesting to see which path Obama takes in the coming years. It’s still too early to say.
P.S. It goes without saying that if Obama had taken a more ardently pro-Mousavi line, he would be catching flak from many of the same people who would attack his response as naive “Yes We Can” idealism detached from harsh realities. What is striking is how many of Obama’s more hawkish critics are prepared to argue that U.S. policy should be defined by syrupy sentimentality, hope and a lot of empty talk (all of the things they have accused Obama of offering in the past), while Obama has so far opted for caution, humility and restraint.