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Posted at 8:40 AM ET, 02/14/2011

Friday question answered

By Jennifer Rubin

In response to Friday's question asking what went wrong with the Obama administration's promised "smart" diplomacy readers offered a number of high-spirited and very entertaining explanations. It was a difficult choice, but a few entries aptly capture competing explanations for administration's disarray.

There is one school of thought that Obama is simply in over his head, lacking the depth of experience and rapport with foreign leaders that his predecessors enjoyed. Skipsailing28 writes:

Obama faces a series of tough decisions. These decisions are difficult for two primary reasons: limited information and limited options.

Within that reality a leader will base decisions on some underlying philosophy and world view. What is Obama's underlying philosophy? Is he driven by evangelical motivations like his predecessor? Or is he a skilled and calculating political professional like Mr. Clinton?

It seems that Mr. Obama's underlying philosophy is some ill-defined notion of "social justice" that we've come to call liberalism. The liberal dogma seeks to explain everything but it can't. No dogma can.

So Mr. Obama may hold his choices up to the light of liberalism and not obtain clarity, just more confusion. Couple that with a lack of serious political skills borne of his relative inexperience, and it is easy to see the potential for failure.

The alternative explanation is that his difficulties arise from personality. Nvjma writes, in part:

Pride and arrogance. Clinton and Obama, both of whom are extremely proud and arrogant all on their very own, have been thoroughly confirmed in their self-confidence by all the adulation and hosannas heaped upon them by the love-blind liberal media. Obama in particular consistently feels that his rhetorical skills (cum teleprompter) are all that is needed to address any political situation. Hillary is merely an extra mouthpiece for him. They have been slapped by reality again and again, but their apologists have worked overtime to prevent their feelings from getting hurt.

We should all be thankful that events Friday turned out the way they did; but a lot will happen in the months to come. In all cases what transpires has much more to do with events on the ground than whatever America does, but of course we can help or hinder events for better or for worse.

And yet a third explanation is that Obama is hobbled by a world view that does not comport with reality. Eoniii remarks:

He doesn't see his role as promoting America's national interests. He doesn't understand how dangerous the world is or the implacable nature of our enemies. His post-national approach is intended to reduce American power and influence, and it's been successful on its terms. But instead of international institutions filling the void, it's the jihadists and Chinese. Even tin-pots such as Hugo Chavez aren't afraid of us at all. Weakness is always provocative.

These three explanations are not of course mutually exclusive. In fact, I'd suggest the interaction of all three accounts for a foreign policy rife with lapses in judgment (e.g. backing Chavez's man in Honduras, obsessing on settlements), lacking in warm relations with allies and excessively compliant in the face of adversaries.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 14, 2011; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Friday question  
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Next: Romney was big CPAC loser


A block quote from skippy? LOL

Posted by: Observer691 | February 14, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Occam's Razor takes a whack for the Garrison Keillor explanation: Barack Obama is a shy person.

Posted by: aardunza | February 14, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Coulda sworn I only wrote Obama once: is there a bug in that edit box "sliding window" code somewhere?

Posted by: aardunza | February 14, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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