Jonathan Chait

Krauthammer, Dominatrix

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Charles Krauthammer fulminates against President Obama's foreign policy speech:

Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)

Obviously when Obama foreswore American domination, he was indicting his predecessors. But Krauthammer failed to cite some other examples of Obama doing the same thing. Here's a speech where he promised, "we must adopt a model of partnership, not paternalism." And here is another where he announced, "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling." Oh, wait a second -- both speeches were delivered by George W. Bush.

So let's rethink this. Perhaps Obama's speech, in which he was arguing for international cooperation to tackle threats such as Iran's drive to attain nuclear weapons, was making those points in a different light. Perhaps he was trying to refute international critics who paint his approach as a cover for U.S. imperialism. Krauthammer, as an advocate of something very close to openly imperialistic foreign policy, might not like that idea, either. But he ought to try to restrain his partisan impulse to aggressively misread Obama's words.

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