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The Insular President

It wasn’t a State of the Union speech, so perhaps it is understandable that the president did not dwell on foreign policy. And it is true that the economy takes front and center these days. But as Bill Kristol notes, the president was so perfunctory in his remarks on national security as to be unserious.

Granted, when you are busy dismantling private enterprise there isn’t much time left in the day for other things, but this is no joke. We have troops on two battlefields, we face two despotic regimes with ambitions for nuclear weapons, and we have unratified and outstanding trade agreements. And all we get is a few campaign throwaway lines about ending the war in Iraq and closing Guantanamo.

The question remains why Obama would just rather not discuss it. Well, he might be uninterested. Or maybe it’s an unpleasant reminder that we need to keep spending money on things other than taking over healthcare and giving cradle to grave education. (Remember the good old days, when it was only cradle to grave healthcare that politicians promised?) It might be that he’d rather not remind the netroots that his national security policies don’t diverge all that much, at least not yet, from his predecessor’s. But it’s a dangerous game to leave the public and the rest of the world in the dark about our obligations and intentions. They might conclude we are unserious or uncommitted.

Interesting, isn’t it, that George W. Bush, who committed to liberating tens of millions of Iraqis, tirelessly advocated free trade, spent billions fighting AIDS in Africa, and negotiated a breakthrough agreement with India, was accused of being insular or disinterested in the world around him. It seems insularity and indifference to a dangerous world are now perfectly acceptable. And it is unnerving.



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