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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Don't Do Something!


Don't do something. 

People will look back on Obama and give high praise for his foreign policy. Ultimately, history will judge his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize to have been justified by subsequent events. Right now, it's not just the neo-cons who aren't convinced. There's also a loud critique of Obama's foreign policy coming from the left. 

Because the GOP is in the thrall of a worldview that holds facts in contempt, it can be easy to miss liberal wrongness. But lefties are quite wrong to urge Obama to "Do Something!" about various human tragedies, be they in Egypt, Syria, or Venezuela. 

But compare Egypt, where we have been active for decades with Tunisia, a country we barely notice. 

Three Years After Uprising, Tunisia Approves Constitution

The resulting document is a liberal constitution that recognizes democratic freedoms and a separation of powers while including general references to Tunisia’s Islamic and Arab identity.

Salon sees it:

John Kerry’s policy of surrender: His failures are redefining American exceptionalism

NYT sees it:

Mr. Obama’s handling of Ukraine reflects a broader “policy of restraint,” as [former advisor to W] Mr. Gaddis termed it, keeping the United States out of crises like Syria, minimizing its involvement in places like Libya, and getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It reflects, he said, not only fundamental differences between the presidents but an underlying weariness on the part of the American public after more than a dozen years of war. 

But the same article gets this wrong:

The goal of establishing a democratic beachhead in the Middle East began driving the occupation, but it became tarnished among many overseas because of its association with the war. 

Wrong! It became tarnished b/c it didn't work! The drama of "democratic" elections in Iraq, complete with TV coverage of purple thumbs, played out twice and yet civil war raged on. The American people were never so naive to think that the success of "the surge" in tamping down the civil war was the same thing as ending that war. And Americans know from experience that functioning democracy and widespread civil war are mutually exclusive. 

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