Excerpts from President Obama's Foreign Policy: An Assessment, by John Bolton, a speech adapted by Imprimus, Hillsdale College's monthy newsletter,
I THINK it is important, on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, to take a look at our foreign policy and to judge whether or not we're on a path to becoming safer. In doing so, we should not be intimidated by those who say that criticism of foreign policy--criticism that suggests we're less safe as a consequence of certain policies--is somehow disloyal or hyper-partisan. It is the essence of political debate over foreign policy to judge whether the interests of the United States are being protected and advanced. If we believe they are not, it is our responsibility to speak out.
For the last eight months, we've had a different kind of president than we've had in the past. Barack Obama is the first post-American president. And by this I don't mean he's anti-American. What I mean by post-American is suggested by a response the president gave to a reporter's question during a recent trip to Europe. The reporter asked about his unwillingness to discuss American exceptionalism--the notion that the United States has a unique mission, that it's "a shining city on a hill" as Ronald Reagan liked to say (echoing our pilgrim fathers). Mr. Obama responded that he believes in American exceptionalism in the same way that the British believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. Given that there are 192 member countries in the United Nations, I'm sure he could have gone on naming another 189 that believe in their own exceptionalism. But in any case, the idea that all countries believe themselves to be exceptional in the same way leads to the unmistakable conclusion that none are truly exceptional. In other words, the president's response reflects his belief that America is not so different from other countries.
Mr. Obama's supporters in the mainstream media share this view. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas, for example, delivered this revealing comment when previewing the president's speech on the anniversary of D-Day last June:
Reagan was all about America . . . . Obama is 'we are above that now.' We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial. We stand for something--I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above--above the world. He's sort of God.
This image of President Obama standing above his country and above the world sums up the post-American way of thinking. The practical point it makes is that America's interest is no different or better than any other country's interest. But is that true? Is America's interest not superior to Sudan's or Cuba's or Zimbabwe's?
In line with this way of thinking, the Obama administration is pursuing a policy that can accurately be described as neoisolationist--a policy characterized by an unwillingness to be assertive in the world in defense of America's interests and those of our friends and allies. . .