I’ve often said that an Obama administration would be the second term of Jimmy Carter (or maybe the first term of Henry Wallace), but, as far as foreign affairs goes, I may be wrong. Ed Morrissey looks at the people Obama is likely to appoint and sees continuity with George Bush — Bush the Elder, that is:
However, I see [Bush the Elder’s National Security Advisor Brent] Scowcroft as a huge improvement over Susan Rice, Robert Malley, and Samantha Power. The Scowcroftian school at least still understood the advantages of Israel as an ally. It also viewed American power as essential for a globalized economy, and its projection as a necessity, although in much less Wilsonian terms than Bush 43.
Based on his campaign rhetoric, Obama appeared to have adopted the Jimmy Carter/Zbigniew Brzezinksi foreign policy. I’ll take Brent Scowcroft any day of the week over the Carter/Brzezinski model.
Obama’s likely national security appointments include people like current Defense Secretary Gates, Council on Foreign Relations head Richard Haass, both Scowcroft protégés, and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who is also a member of the Realist school that Scowcroft follows.
I was an ardent Realist myself, until September 11th brought home to me the fatal flaws of such a cynical approach. Since then I’ve drifted somewhat toward neoconservative or Wilsonian views on foreign affairs, believing that America is best served and protected by the expansion of democratic governments around the world. We should also be wary of international organizations dominated by those who don’t have our best interests at heart, contrary to the faith placed in such organizations by liberal internationalists, and be willing to act, on our own if need be, in defense of those interests. That doesn’t mean running off at every opportunity to, paraphrasing Wilson, "teach the world to elect good men," but we should be wiling to use force when necessary, and should press for the advancement of free societies at all times.
So, while I’m not thrilled at the apparent resurgence of the Realists, like Ed, I think it’s darned preferable to a return to Carterism.