What Would President Obama's Foreign Policy Look Like?

Samantha Power, the glamorous Irish-born Harvard professor, was booted from her formal position as senior foreign policy adviser to Obama for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." The candidate claims to have more than 300 foreign policy advisors, but it is clear that Power -- whose advice Obama personally solicited -- remains close to the candidate.  They text each other late into night; there are hints that Obama would grant her high position, even cabinet office. 

Power publishes in the current New York Review of Books -- a far-left journal in which prolix professors routinely savage the U.S.  as a shameful country and grumble about our having won the Cold War -- an article titled The Democrats & National Security, which offers  a  look at the mindset likely to guide Obama foreign policy.


Power argues that American voters -- fools that we are -- have been bamboozled into seeing Republicans as superior guardians of national security:

"This faith in Republican toughness has had profound electoral consequences.  Since 1968, with the single exception of 2000, Americans have chosen Republican presidents in times of perceived danger."  

In Power's Manichean view, all Republican presidents bungled national defense, even Eisenhower (she doesn't mention Ike's ending the Korean War and warning about the military-industrial complex).  She faults President Reagan for believing "that doing away with an evil regime was more important than preventing nuclear war."  Power fails to comprehend that Reagan softened up Gorbachev by taking actions she condemns, i.e., "adopting a war-fighting strategy, beginning a civil defense program, researching a missile shield, increasing the military budget."  

Reagan's policies enabled us -- without nuclear war -- to do away with a regime recognized as inordinately evil in most places other than university political science departments.  Power attributes Republican policies to the false belief that our adversaries are "evil-doers" whom we must "roll back," coupled with our arrogant presumption of "exceptional American virtue."  She is indignant that President Bush in his 2002 National Security Address "used the word 'liberty' 11 times and 'freedom' 46 times."  In Power's sophisticated view, we should not take pride in our freedom and it was wrong to believe that Stalin, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung -- who murdered millions of their own people -- were evil. Was there no "exceptional American virtue" in going to war to roll back aggression, without seeking territorial aggrandizement, twice in Europe and once in Korea?

Power believes that  9/11 was not a watershed event compelling our Government to radically revamp strategies:

"September 11 gave hard-line conservatives an opportunity to apply their pre-hatched theories and from the start they sought to unshackle the U.S. from international agreements and to reduce reliance on diplomatic engagement."

Preferring soft-line liberal responses, Power apparently would advise President Obama to complain to the U.N. in the event of a repetition of 9/11.  She condemns President Bush for "consistently ridiculing" the U.N.  She says  that a correct (i.e., Democratic) response to 9/11 and  Saddam Hussein's defiance of U.N. resolutions would have been continued reliance on "diplomatic engagement" and the U.N., notwithstanding its failures, exacerbated by veto powers of countries which enjoy seeing us bleed.  This surely constitutes the triumph of flawed memory over hope.  Her myopia is so advanced that she claims "the U.S.-led invasion brought savage sectarian killing to Iraq." 

If you don't know that Saddam gassed Kurds and slaughtered Shi'ites, should you be giving foreign policy advice?

What soft-line liberal thinking refuses to countenance is the remarkable success of our country in thwarting subsequent terror attacks on our soil.  Like the Bourbons who remembered  nothing, Power overlooks the agonizing post-9/11 tension in which we looked upon London and Madrid, fearing when the next atrocity would strike us.  Advocating a "rule-based liberal order" and indignant at powers assumed by the President to prevent further attacks, Power -- like most liberals -- refuses to acknowledge that surveillance of communications from overseas and harsh interrogation (e.g., of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11 and slit the throat of Danny Pearl) helped achieve that success.  When it comes to how Obama will "expose once and for all the fallacies in the conservative approach while putting forward a convincing alternative," Power is deplorably vague.  All she can come up with is "talking early and often about national security" with plans for "retrieving loose nuclear material in the former Soviet Union or for assisting Iraqi refugees in Syria."  This is change we can believe in?

That Power does not draw correct lessons from history is proven by her  omission of the  Democratic President whose achievements refute her obsession with "soft power," i.e. Harry Truman, who defeated Japan with nuclear bombs and saved Europe with the Berlin Airlift.  It is not too early to reflect on parallels between Presidents Truman and the incumbent. Both were reviled by media and professors.

I do not know how much of Power's thinking is shared by Obama; that is part of the enigma of Obama, a man who does not have enough experience to be assessed fully.  But Obama did seek Power out, spent four hours with her in their first scheduled one-hour meeting; no one knows what they text about late at night.  Power and Obama agree that the U.S. would   somehow be more secure if Saddam had remained in power. 

Power's worldview is the academic strain of the "Damn America" virus of those ghosts haunting Obama's campaign, i.e., Rev. Wright and William Ayres. The thought that this academic loose cannon, who has made other scandalous remarks, might be an influential advisor to a POTUS is unsettling to anyone concerned with our national security. 

Joel J. Sprayregen, a Chicago lawyer and writer, is associated with think tanks dealing with national security issues in Washington, Jerusalem and Turkey. 
Samantha Power, the glamorous Irish-born Harvard professor, was booted from her formal position as senior foreign policy adviser to Obama for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." The candidate claims to have more than 300 foreign policy advisors, but it is clear that Power -- whose advice Obama personally solicited -- remains close to the candidate.  They text each other late into night; there are hints that Obama would grant her high position, even cabinet office. 

Power publishes in the current New York Review of Books -- a far-left journal in which prolix professors routinely savage the U.S.  as a shameful country and grumble about our having won the Cold War -- an article titled The Democrats & National Security, which offers  a  look at the mindset likely to guide Obama foreign policy.


Power argues that American voters -- fools that we are -- have been bamboozled into seeing Republicans as superior guardians of national security:

"This faith in Republican toughness has had profound electoral consequences.  Since 1968, with the single exception of 2000, Americans have chosen Republican presidents in times of perceived danger."  

In Power's Manichean view, all Republican presidents bungled national defense, even Eisenhower (she doesn't mention Ike's ending the Korean War and warning about the military-industrial complex).  She faults President Reagan for believing "that doing away with an evil regime was more important than preventing nuclear war."  Power fails to comprehend that Reagan softened up Gorbachev by taking actions she condemns, i.e., "adopting a war-fighting strategy, beginning a civil defense program, researching a missile shield, increasing the military budget."  

Reagan's policies enabled us -- without nuclear war -- to do away with a regime recognized as inordinately evil in most places other than university political science departments.  Power attributes Republican policies to the false belief that our adversaries are "evil-doers" whom we must "roll back," coupled with our arrogant presumption of "exceptional American virtue."  She is indignant that President Bush in his 2002 National Security Address "used the word 'liberty' 11 times and 'freedom' 46 times."  In Power's sophisticated view, we should not take pride in our freedom and it was wrong to believe that Stalin, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung -- who murdered millions of their own people -- were evil. Was there no "exceptional American virtue" in going to war to roll back aggression, without seeking territorial aggrandizement, twice in Europe and once in Korea?

Power believes that  9/11 was not a watershed event compelling our Government to radically revamp strategies:

"September 11 gave hard-line conservatives an opportunity to apply their pre-hatched theories and from the start they sought to unshackle the U.S. from international agreements and to reduce reliance on diplomatic engagement."

Preferring soft-line liberal responses, Power apparently would advise President Obama to complain to the U.N. in the event of a repetition of 9/11.  She condemns President Bush for "consistently ridiculing" the U.N.  She says  that a correct (i.e., Democratic) response to 9/11 and  Saddam Hussein's defiance of U.N. resolutions would have been continued reliance on "diplomatic engagement" and the U.N., notwithstanding its failures, exacerbated by veto powers of countries which enjoy seeing us bleed.  This surely constitutes the triumph of flawed memory over hope.  Her myopia is so advanced that she claims "the U.S.-led invasion brought savage sectarian killing to Iraq." 

If you don't know that Saddam gassed Kurds and slaughtered Shi'ites, should you be giving foreign policy advice?

What soft-line liberal thinking refuses to countenance is the remarkable success of our country in thwarting subsequent terror attacks on our soil.  Like the Bourbons who remembered  nothing, Power overlooks the agonizing post-9/11 tension in which we looked upon London and Madrid, fearing when the next atrocity would strike us.  Advocating a "rule-based liberal order" and indignant at powers assumed by the President to prevent further attacks, Power -- like most liberals -- refuses to acknowledge that surveillance of communications from overseas and harsh interrogation (e.g., of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11 and slit the throat of Danny Pearl) helped achieve that success.  When it comes to how Obama will "expose once and for all the fallacies in the conservative approach while putting forward a convincing alternative," Power is deplorably vague.  All she can come up with is "talking early and often about national security" with plans for "retrieving loose nuclear material in the former Soviet Union or for assisting Iraqi refugees in Syria."  This is change we can believe in?

That Power does not draw correct lessons from history is proven by her  omission of the  Democratic President whose achievements refute her obsession with "soft power," i.e. Harry Truman, who defeated Japan with nuclear bombs and saved Europe with the Berlin Airlift.  It is not too early to reflect on parallels between Presidents Truman and the incumbent. Both were reviled by media and professors.

I do not know how much of Power's thinking is shared by Obama; that is part of the enigma of Obama, a man who does not have enough experience to be assessed fully.  But Obama did seek Power out, spent four hours with her in their first scheduled one-hour meeting; no one knows what they text about late at night.  Power and Obama agree that the U.S. would   somehow be more secure if Saddam had remained in power. 

Power's worldview is the academic strain of the "Damn America" virus of those ghosts haunting Obama's campaign, i.e., Rev. Wright and William Ayres. The thought that this academic loose cannon, who has made other scandalous remarks, might be an influential advisor to a POTUS is unsettling to anyone concerned with our national security. 

Joel J. Sprayregen, a Chicago lawyer and writer, is associated with think tanks dealing with national security issues in Washington, Jerusalem and Turkey.