Advancing a Free Society

Leading from behind

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ryan Lizza has a lengthy and hilarious exposé in The New Yorker about foreign policy in the Obama administration.  It sets out to be a portrait of nobly serious people bringing American national security into line with our diminished influence, "remaking" American foreign policy. The administration clearly thought it was a good-news story, since Secretary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon went on the record.

What makes the article so funny is the pompous self-regard of the administration officials and the complete lack of appreciation for how woefully inadequate their performance has been in meeting these challenges. They are "not cursed with self-awareness," to quote Annie Savoy from the movieBull Durham. Secretary of State Clinton compares herself as a collegiate Vietnam war protester to the young Egyptians who brought down the Mubarak government. Both Tom Donilon and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes explain the importance of reducing involvement in the middle east because our strategic interests lie in Asia ... as the administration engaged in combat operations in Libya. A presidential memo is cited as wisely anticipating the middle eastern revolutions, except that the memo calls for tailored country by country programs that the administration's policies clearly did not have. The author even unwittingly adds to the humor, saying "Obama's instinct was to try to have it both ways."

Continue reading Kori Schake at Foreign Policy’s blog Shadow Government