Obama's Conception of America's Global Role: Plus ça Change . . . ?
In the January/February issue of the Atlantic, that publication's polymathic literary editor (and former foreign policy analyst at RAND) Benjamin Schwarz takes on what he calls the "dangerous sentiments" about America's virtually unlimited role in the world that have been held by all recent presidents, regardless of party, including, if one is to judge by his rhetoric and that of his advisers, President-elect Obama:
Schwarz points out the gulf between many Obama supporters' (audacious?) hopes for a less "imperial" America, and the exceptionalist rhetoric of Obama and his advisers, "which could be fairly described as standard liberal internationalist."
Examining the National Intelligence Council's November 2008 "Global Trends 2025" report (for more on what the report said, see our own Richard Weitz's examination), Schwarz also points out the gulf between the world that America's best intelligence prognosticators believe is almost inevitably coming into being and the world that this bipartisan U.S. policy consensus, aimed at the maintenance of a far-reaching (and unsustainably expensive) U.S hegemony, seems intent on preserving. Schwarz writes:
Finally, Schwarz puts on his book editor hat and recommends seven books -- "alll out of fashion, many out of print" -- that "readers looking for genuine 'change' in U.S. foreign policy should consult." Among Schwarz's recommendations: George F. Kennan's "Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy"; and William Appleman Williams' "The Tragedy of American Diplomacy ."
As an insightful realist critique of U.S. foreign policy, the piece is worth reading in full.