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Will Rice Wreck Obama's Presidency?

July 1, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Barack Obama may be president because he criticized the invasion of Iraq. From that, leftish Democrats assumed he was one of them, opposed to military intervention. But instead he proved to be a cautious liberal hawk ready to use military force and expand the national-security state. He accepted George W. Bush’s withdrawal schedule from Iraq, twice increased force levels in Afghanistan, and initiated war against Libya.

Nevertheless, there have been no new grand crusades or grandiose pronouncements. He declined to take up Madeleine Albright’s famous challenge to Colin Powell to more often use America’s “superb military.” For instance, despite applying significant economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran, President Obama has resisted insistent demands for air strikes. Even more pronounced was his reluctance to intervene in Syria, which illustrates the tension between his innate prudence and his liberal sensibility.

His previous national-security adviser, Tom Donilon, seemed to share this perspective. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was no shrinking violet when it came to military action, she also demonstrated little enthusiasm for joining the Syrian killfest. But the president has been changing his foreign-policy team. New secretary of state hire John Kerry appears more inclined to activism. Even more dramatic was his choice to replace Donilon with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who this week begins her new position in the West Wing.

With Americans staunchly opposed to another Mideast military misadventure, turning his foreign policy over to Susan Rice and like-minded allies could wreck the Obama presidency.”

No doubt, her loyalty to the president was an important factor in her appointment. Moreover, President Obama is simultaneously rewarding her and sticking it to Republican critics who effectively blocked her ascension to secretary of state.

Nevertheless, her views are important. Both she and Barack Obama are proponents of multilateral institutions and processes as well as abundant foreign aid. Both back sanctions against Iran and North Korea. She also has repeated the administration mantra about keeping “all options on the table, including the military option,” regarding Iran.

However, elsewhere her approach toward military intervention appears to differ from that of the president. In particular, both she and Samantha Power, chosen to replace Rice as UN ambassador, are strong advocates of humanitarian intervention. It’s essentially the antithesis of prudent realism: Washington should intervene when it is not in America’s interest to do so. Doing so both is good and makes one feel good.

Humanitarian intervention invites cynicism. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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