March 11, 2008

A Clarification

Justin was baffled by something I said earlier, so I’ll try to explain what I meant.  Richard is right that my concern is to emphasize the degree to which Obama and his camp endorse establishment views of almost every other foreign policy question.  I floated the idea that a “case can be made that a successful extrication from Iraq by Obama will open the floodgates for many more interventions, and costly ones at that,” because I think the case could be made, though I have not gone so far as to make it at any length.  Barring some massive expansion of the military (which Obama has proposed) or the return of conscription, resources for additional campaigns will be extremely limited unless Obama succeeds in getting us out of Iraq, but withdrawal will free the interventionists’ hands to meddle in many other countries and Obama has stated his willingness to do just this.  Obama’s position on Iraq is not the reason to fear his election—it is what he would do with our military and the executive power entrusted to him once that was accomplished.  That is what I was suggesting when I warned of “many more interventions.”  None of these alone may be more costly than Iraq, but that will not make any of them cheap or worthwhile.  Remember, this is the man who wrote (or had written in his name):

After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent, many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America. We can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission.

The rejection of bullying is welcome, but what is this but an ostensibly “kinder, gentler” hegemony, one perhaps more acceptable to international institutions and more amenable to foreign governments but fundamentally just as antithetical to the American interest and republican government?  Under the circumstances, I can understand why some on the right will prefer Obama to McCain, whose madness and recklessness I don’t doubt for a moment, but I want to make clear to everyone the risks and dangers that an Obama presidency would represent.  If my objections are just self-defeating purism, I expect that I will persuade few.  If, however, Obama is as dangerous as his assumptions about America’s role in the world suggest, caution will have been warranted.

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