THE PLANK MARCH 27, 2009
In light of the new Foreign Policy Initiative that Mike blogged about yesterday, it's somewhat ironic that many conservatives have actually been arguing Obama's foreign policy is shaping up to be little different from Bush's. For example, Robert Kagan, one of FPI's founders, wrote a piece the other week titled "Foreign Policy Sequels," which argued that the "pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand." Now, there is some merit to this in the sense that in the final years of his presidency Bush's approach to the world became far more pragmatic and far less ideological-that is, he moved away from the absolutist positions of his first term toward policies that Obama was advocating. And, yet, as I've argued, it would be ridiculous to gloss over the extent to which Bush's good-versus-evil worldview profoundly impacted his presidency on issues like Iran, Pakistan, and missile defense. We're only a couple months into the Obama's administration, so it would be premature to predict the specifics of Obama's policies-or their prospects for success-but we do know that Obama's worldview is 180 degrees different. Contrary to Kagan's assertion that the "premises of U.S. policy have not shifted," they have in fact shifted quite dramatically-away from Manichaeism. I have a short piece up on NPR.org right now putting this in some context.