The View From 1776

New-Left Foreign Policy

The fecklessness of Obama’s foreign policy actions in part arises from his being nurtured by the ethos of 1960s-1970s new-left student activism.

Caroline Glick describes Life Under the Obama Doctrine.  The bottom line is that Obama is more concerned about making nice with our opponents than with honoring obligations to defend our allies and our national interest in foreign affairs.

There are two roots to this dangerous foreign policy mindset.  One is liberal-progressives’ implicit assumption that their views and values are the only rational ones, and their expectation that leaders in other countries will share those views and be guided by them in their foreign policy.  Hence Secretary of State John Kerry’s plaint that Putin isn’t adhering to norms of 21st century foreign policy.

Graham Wallas, one of the original British Fabian socialists, spotlighted this fallacy in his 1908 Human Nature in Politics, warning against the assumption that men are automatically guided by enlightened self-interest, by rational motives, and pursue them solely with intelligent reasoning.  As A.L. Rowse put it in a preface to Wallas’s book, “…it is silly, and apt to be dangerous to the best causes in the world, to take our illusions for things as they are.”

This, of course, is why collective action via the League of Nations, the United Nations, and all such multi-national bodies has been and ever will be doomed ultimately to failure.

In liberal-progressivism’s unreformed world view, everyone wants peace, so international frictions and wars are just misunderstandings that can be smoothed over by friendly and solicitous discussion.  Thus Obama has been obsequious in dealing with our declared enemies and with nations whose foreign interests challenge ours.  Heading the list is Iran, which has never deviated from its quest to obtain the capability to produce nuclear weapons, to become the dominant power in the Middle East, and to obliterate Israel.  Obama pledged at the beginning of his administration to enter into unconditional diplomatic talks with Iran.  He has assumed the same attitude dealing with other aggressors, from North Korea to Russia.  In that vein, the president has “led from behind,” elevating the UN to the level of final authority over United States foreign policy.

The second root of Obama’s foreign policy posture comes from the perspective of his new-left friends and advisors, among whom are Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.  Ayers and Dohrn were among the leaders in the 1960s and 70s of the militant SDS and later Weatherman Underground student-activist organizations.  For Ayers, Dohrn, and their fellow travelers, the United States was, and remains, the enemy that imposed colonial oppression upon our resident black and Hispanic communities and has always been the imperial aggressor causing the world’s troubles.  In their activist days they proclaimed solidarity with the North Vietnamese and took militant action, including murder, bombings, and robberies, to “bring the war home, kill the pigs, and deliver death to Amerika.” 

During his college years Obama, studied under these new-left activists, by then “respected college professors.”  They thoroughly indoctrinated him in the new-left view that the world’s troubles are caused by government support for private property, which is condemned as greed and theft of what rightly belongs to the poor, both in the United States and abroad.  To rights these wrongs, to attain social justice, the United States at home must redistribute wealth and abroad must back away from imposing its will to protect our national interests.