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From Robert Kagan’s Mouth to Mitt Romney’s Book

I had hoped never ever to return to “No Apology: The Case For American Greatness.” But there’s a clear narrative forming about the Obama administration’s foreign policy on display from Robert Kagan in The Washington Post today, occasioned by the current U.S.-Israel dust-up:

While displaying more continuity than discontinuity in his policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq and the war against terrorism, and garnering as a result considerable bipartisan support for those policies, Obama appears to be departing from a 60-year-old American grand strategy when it comes to allies. The old strategy rested on a global network of formal military and political alliances, mostly though not exclusively with fellow democracies. The idea, Averell Harriman explained in 1947, was to create “a balance of power preponderantly in favor of the free countries.” Under Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes, relations with Europe and Japan, and later India, were deepened and strengthened.

I would wonder what planet Kagan lives on where George W. Bush did more to strengthen U.S. ties to Europe, Japan and India than Barack Obama so far — but I digress. Kagan’s ahistorical view is on display on pages 22 through 30 of Romney’s book. I won’t reprint the entire section, but some excerpts demonstrate the point:

[T]the policy followed by presidents of both parties from 1945 to 2008 had an unparalleled impact for good… President Obama is well on his way toward engineering a dramatic shift in American foreign policy, based on his own underlying attitudes. The first of these envisions America as a nation whose purpose is to arbitrate disputes rather than to advocate ideals, a country consciously seeking equidistance between allies and adversaries. We have never seen anything quite like it, really…

If President Obama has won the praise of America’s enemies, he has too often turned his back on America’s allies…. Something similar is happening with Israel, where President Obama has exerted substantial pressure on Israel to stop its settlements while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians. He has done this despite the fact that Israel is among America’s greatest allies, a true and faithful friend, one that has made real sacrifices for peace.

On the acknowledgment page, Romney does the whole Kagan family a service: “I learned a great deal from Robert Kagan, Fred Kagan, and Kim Kagan, each of whom is a vital national resource in matters relating to foreign and military policy.”

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