Last week, President Obama sat down with Vox.com for a two-part interview that tackled his approach on both domestic and foreign policy. If you didn’t read through the interview with a discerning eye (or brain), it would be easy to view him as a pragmatic leader who is doing the best he can to help America through trying times. But after answering one particular question on foreign policy, he revealed that his ethical standards are, shall we say, rather fluid (which I’m sure many of you probably suspected at the beginning of his administration).
Early on in the second part of the interview, he was asked:
This is a really sort of big-picture question, but over the years, I’ve heard a number of different members of your team refer to your kind of philosophy in foreign affairs as “realism.” Is that a term you would use?
To which he answered:
You know, traditionally, a lot of American foreign policy has been divided into the realist camp and the idealist camp. And so if you’re an idealist, you’re like Woodrow Wilson, and you’re out there with the League of Nations and imagining everybody holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” and imposing these wonderful rules that everybody’s abiding by. And if you’re a realist, then you’re supporting dictators who happen to be our friends, and you’re cutting deals and solely pursuing the self-interest of our country as narrowly defined. And I just don’t think that describes what a smart foreign policy should be.
It isn’t exactly clear which side of this debate he’s on. He makes the “idealists” of foreign policy sound like hippies, while clearly stating that an “ends justify the means” approach is ineffective. But when he is confronted by the interviewer on our relationship with tyrannical regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, he has something very troubling to say:
This is a perfect example, Matt, of where the division between realism and idealism kind of breaks down. I think any realist worth their salt would say that any society that consistently ignores human rights and the dignity of its citizens at some point is going to be unstable and not a great partner. So it’s not just the right thing to do; it’s also very much in our interest to promote reforms throughout the Middle East. Now, the fact that we have to make real-time decisions about who are we partnering with and how perfectly are they abiding by our ideals, and are there times where we’ve got to mute some of our criticism to get some stuff done, are there times where we have an opportunity to press forward — that doesn’t negate the importance of us speaking out on these issues.
There’s something that could be said here on America’s status as a burgeoning police state filled with overflowing prisons, militarized police departments, and busybody bureaucrats, but I’d like to stay on point. What it sounds like he’s saying, is that he has a kind of moral ambiguity that allows him to switch back and forth between two ethical extremes, depending on the situation. I wonder if he applies that same weak-kneed morality in other realms of his presidency?
He then goes on to say something that every alternative media outlet has been predicting for years, and doesn’t seem to be aware that it applies equally to him and the government he currently leads.
But I am a firm believer that particularly in this modern internet age, the capacity of the old-style authoritarian government to sustain itself and to thrive just is going to continue to weaken. It’s going to continue to crumble that model. My argument to any partner that we have is that you are better off if you’ve got a strong civil society and you’ve got democratic legitimacy and you are respectful of human rights. That’s how you’re going to attract businesses, that’s how you’re going to have a strong workforce, that’s how ultimately you’ve got a more durable not just economy but also political system.
Again, he’s talking about foreign regimes when you could say the same thing about America today. We don’t have a strong civil society, or democratic legitimacy; and whatever shred of respect our government had for human rights died on 9/11. Our system of government is more akin to an oligarchy, than this imaginary free society he’s trying to push in the interview.
And for the icing on the cake, he finishes his response by saying:
I’ve said this before and I think some folks in Washington were like, “Oh, he’s ignoring the chaos of all the terrible stuff that’s happening.” Of course, I’m not ignoring it. I’m dealing with it every day. That’s what I wake up to each morning. I get a thick book full of death, destruction, strife, and chaos. That’s what I take with my morning tea.
What else do you take with your tea Mr. President? A drone strike perhaps? Do you get to joke with your staffers about how good you are at killing people? In that ‘thick book full of death, destruction, strife, and chaos’ you see every morning, how many of the details are you responsible for?
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .