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March 25, 2008

The Obama Doctrine: Not Just A Global Charity Program!

I wrote yesterday to poke fun at Obama's foreign policy ideas as described in this American Prospect piece. But this is a gift that keeps on giving.

For example, it's not unexpected when it comes to pronouncements from politicians--especially Democrats who always seem to "have a Plan" without being able to explain one--but the Obama Doctrine is a little short on details. We're told that he's "doing something braver with foreign policy than McGovern or Carter." (Heh.) But we're never told what that something is except that it rejects "the Iraq War mindset," whatever that is, and involves "dignity promotion."

"Dignity promotion" is code for "Obama's Global Charity Program." An explicit rejection of the idea that democracy is good as means and ends of foreign policy, dignity promotion is an attempt to transform our foreign policy into a global welfare and wellness program:

What's typically neglected in these arguments is the simple insight that democracy does not fill stomachs, alleviate malaria, or protect neighborhoods from marauding bands of militiamen. Democracy, in other words, is valuable to people insofar as it allows them first to meet their basic needs. It is much harder to provide that sense of dignity than to hold an election in Baghdad or Gaza and declare oneself shocked when illiberal forces triumph.

This type of thinking is the result of the far Left's deep misunderstanding and distrust of democracy; a lacuna that prevents them from even perceiving the plain truth: democracy does, in fact, do things like fill bellies, cure diseases, and lower crime. It just takes longer than the alternative, which is to impose order through tyranny. Democracy also comes with useful side-effects like higher standards of living, a smaller propensity to war, and--worst of all for Leftists--capitalism.

The vagueness of the Obama Doctrine is frustrating because, the protestations of Obama supporters notwithstanding, it sounds a lot like a combination of foreign policy realism, welfare, and a self-actualization seminar:

"Dignity is a way to unite a lot of different strands [of foreign-policy thinking]," [now ex-key Obama aide, Samantha Power,] says. "If you start with that, it explains why it's not enough to spend $3 billion on refugee camps in Darfur, because the way those people are living is not the way they want to live. It's not a human way to live. It's graceless -- an affront to your sense of dignity."

Unfortunately, that's all you get from her, which doesn't really tell us anything except that we should be spending money on refugee camps and also on making refugees feel like being chased out of their homes by bloodthirsty criminals is dignified. Somehow, I think that American attempts to play therapist for allies, enemies, and neutrals abroad will just make people angry. And Samantha Power of "Hillary is a monster" fame is unlikely to convince me otherwise.

And that's the central flaw in the Obama Doctrine. You expect me to believe that the fellow who continually lies about John McCain's position on Iraq, who refers to "typical" white persons, and who associates himself with a black nationalist racewarrior has something to teach the world about dignity?

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:30 AM

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