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Obama's policy is too consistent to be "visceral"

Reader comment on item: Obama, Kerry and Netanyahu Go Visceral

Submitted by Dan Simon (United States), Jan 1, 2017 at 20:30

The problem with the theory that Obama is lashing out at Israel out of pique is that his behavior is completely consistent with the rest of his foreign policy, which follows a very simple rule: accommodate and empower enemies, while alienating and undermining allies, at every opportunity.

This approach dates back to the New Left of the 1960s, which enthusiastically sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, arguing that US "imperialism" was the root of all evil in the world. It's also conventional wisdom among Obama's social class, and is in fact quite sensibly grounded in class interests: the "left" coalition led by academics, journalists, bureaucrats and NGO workers gains in relative domestic status compared to their main rival coalition--which includes the military, business, and the blue-collar working class--if American power abroad is diminished, its adversaries empowered, and diplomacy therefore a necessary substitute for economic or military power.

If the Obama/Kerry swipes at Israel were taking place in the context of an administration carefully cultivating strong alliances with pro-US nations in order to confront anti-US ones, then it would make sense to attribute these uncharacteristic outbursts to personal animus. But they are in fact completely of a piece with the administration's similar jibes at Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Honduras, and other enthusiastically pro-US countries, together with its enthusiastic outreach to avowed US enemies such as Russia, Cuba, and of course Iran.

When an avowed follower of New Left thinkers and ideas adopts a completely conventional New Left foreign policy, no psychological explanation is necessary.

Submitting....

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Daniel Pipes replies:

You make a good point but I argued something different: That Obama's lashing out as he has in counterproductive to his goals. In that sense, it's visceral, i.e., emotional.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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