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Post-Realism

Bret Stephens counsels the president:

Barack Obama vowed to turn to the U.N. Security Council for strong action following North Korea’s weekend missile launch. He would have done better by turning to Dr. Phil.

So, as the good doctor likes to say: Get real. Get real about North Korea. Get real about the U.N. Get real, also, about NATO, arms control, Russia, the global financial system, and every other item headlining the president’s unreality tour through the capitals of Europe.

Really, we were going to get the return of the hard-nosed realists, the people who eschewed utopian visions of a world that could be remodeled in our image and who would stick to the nitty-gritty business of defending America’s most pressing interests. But all of that seems forgotten in a spasm of  feel-good aspirational diplomacy. It is as if the nuclear freeze crowd from the Cold War awoke from a quarter-century slumber, missed the part about burying the Soviets in an arms race and have picked up where they left off.

And what about the “international community” and the UN, whose company Obama craves? Well, their inability to do anything have made them useless. As Charles Krauthammer aptly put it: “If he had gone to Oz it would have had more effectiveness.”

The good news, as Stephens points out, is that the president’s charm-based foreign policy is not all that effective in moving other countries to do things which might make things worse:

At the G-20 Summit in London, the Europeans failed to get the U.S. to sign up to a new global regulatory agency, and the U.S. failed to convince the Europeans to dig themselves even deeper into debt — a win for both sides, albeit unintentionally.

The bad news: our enemies  profit by ineffectiveness and move ahead with their designs while we dither. Dimitri Medvedev may call Obama his “new comrade,” but he’s not about to agree to sanctions against North Korea. And Iran is watching and learning just how unresponsive to provocations the new president is. Their nuclear program moves ahead. One wonders what it will take for Obama to get real.


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