Can’t Blame Bush Forever
The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl makes an observation and then wonders…
New American presidents typically begin by behaving as if most of the world’s problems are the fault of their predecessors — and Barack Obama has been no exception. In his first three months he has quickly taken steps to correct the errors in George W. Bush’s foreign policy, as seen by Democrats. He has collected easy dividends from his base, U.S. allies in Europe and a global following for not being “unilateralist” or war-mongering or scornful of dialogue with enemies.
Now comes the interesting part: when it starts to become evident that Bush did not create rogue states, terrorist movements, Middle Eastern blood feuds or Russian belligerence — and that shake-ups in U.S. diplomacy, however enlightened, might not have much impact on them.
Indeed, as Victor Davis Hansen writes:
[D]id the “their old America did it, not my new one” Obama approach win his country anything? Russians helping out to prevent a nuclear Iran, or stopping the killing of dissidents abroad, or promises not to bully the former Soviet republics? More European combat units going to Afghanistan? Mexico vowing to curb illegal immigration? Turkey ceasing its new anti-Western Islamic screeds?
His supporters would rejoin, “Oh, but give him time. He’s sowing the field with good will for a bountiful harvest of future cooperation”. I do think he’s sowing, but a minefield rather than a crop, whose explosions will be as inevitable as they will be numerous. Sarkozy’s crude dismissal and appraisal of Obama (nothing is worse for a liberal administration than to have their idolized French brethren bite their extended limp hands) are the templates of things to come.
And back to Diehl:
Obama is not the first president to discover that facile changes in U.S. policy don’t crack long-standing problems. Some of his new strategies may produce results with time. Yet the real test of an administration is what it does once it realizes that the quick fixes aren’t working — that, say, North Korea and Iran have no intention of giving up their nuclear programs, with or without dialogue, while Russia remains determined to restore its dominion over Georgia. In other words, what happens when it’s no longer George W. Bush’s fault?