Hanson asks: Is it better have a bad foreign policy, or no policy at all?

Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online explores President Obama’s approach to foreign policy.

Barack Obama had a foreign policy for about five years, and now he has none.

The first-term foreign policy’s assumptions went something like this. Obama was to assure the world that he was not George W. Bush. Whatever the latter was for, Obama was mostly against. Given that Bush had left office with polls similar to Harry Truman’s final numbers, this seemed to Obama a wise political approach. …

… Second, policy per se would be secondary to Obama’s personal narrative and iconic status. Obama, by virtue of his nontraditional name, his mixed-race ancestry, and his unmistakably leftist politics, would win over America’s critics to the point where most disagreements — themselves largely provoked by prior traditional and blinkered administrations — would dissipate. Rhetoric and symbolism would trump Obama’s complete absence of foreign-policy experience.

Many apparently shared Obama’s view that disagreements abroad were not so much over substantive issues as they were caused by race, class, or gender fissures, or were the fallout from the prior insensitivity of Europe and the United States — as evidenced by a Nobel Prize awarded to Obama on the basis of his stated good intentions. …

… And what now? Blaming Bush had a shelf life of four years, proved nihilistic, and can’t be continued for the next three. No one abroad cares that Obama is either leftwing or the first African-American president or that he speaks well from a teleprompter. Hope and change have become a sort of embarrassment. Another Cairo speech would earn guffaws. More loud reaching out to Turkey, Cuba, and Venezuela would earn eye-rolling. China has heard it all before. Iran is calibrating how to time its nuclear acquisition with the ending of Obama’s second term. Israel is politely tuning out. Putin is wondering: Can all these gifts be for real, or might there still be some elaborate ruse?

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