One of the axioms foreign policy anoraks relish using states that: no matter who is at helm, the direction of the US foreign policy remains constant. However, I often find this claim cynical and even sinister. Also, I have my doubts about what really lurks behind this assumption. I guess you can interpret that as a version of -you behave according to where you sit- theory. But I guess some of the ‘mainstream’ pundits prefer to follow that good old Marxist view of external relations where the US needs to satisfy its internal needs with never-ending expansion. And thus every conflict and every war is just a constant fight for new markets and/or natural resources as they are inevitable for the (evil) capitalist superpower to survive. However, on the other hand I always try to be careful not to join in with some panicky conservative commentators who unmistakably declare the end of America with the next left-of-centre leader coming to office. Here, that view of constancy offers a more measured and even comforting look – from an abundance of the examples from the past it shows much brighter future: no matter what political campaigners want to tell you – don’t worry it won’t be that bad after all.
But I somehow feel not this time. President Obama seems to be a case in point. Obama is hopelessly spineless in his accommodation of Muslim radicals. His economic policy without hesitation welcomes Chinese politburo to prop up the US debt. He also showed us how to bend forward (parading body’s considerable post-election flexibility) before Russian presidents. And he is shaking hands with South American autocrats while cheering on Iran and its bomb. Event realists would have to blush with his record of friends. And some even stress these ‘realist’ streak of Obama – obviously that idealistic changey-hopey stuff forgotten now, how else. But real realists have always picked and chosen what evil to accommodate with and which one to doom. Not Obama who seems to have lot of good will for the overt enemies of America, but none for her friends. Obama is so lucidly predicable in his hate of Britain – her grand imperial past. His cold support of the state of Israel warms up only at fundraiser events. And his Treasury secretary Geithner part-time job seems to be an attack dog haunting the leaders of Europe blaming the US non-recovery on them. So much so that Chancellor Merkel needed to tell him to shut up.
There is no realist streak in Obama. His foreign policy is just one big muddle. That is because Obama’s view of the US is immensely different from that of any other president in the last hundred years, perhaps with the exception of, ehm, Jimmy Carter. For Obama, American greatness is the thing of past. He, the Great Prophet of 21st century. is here to end her ‘imperial’ overstretch. He is here to tame her, make her harmless and by that inadvertently make the world more dangerous place (for America too).