Diehling with the Past and Extraterrestrials

November 22, 2010

Diehling with the Past and Extraterrestrials

Jackson Diehl's call in the Washington Post for a more-sweeping–Obama administration foreign policy has turned some heads. (So has Kim Jong Il, but more on that in a moment.) He finds American foreign policy "stuck" in 1983: the "nuclear freeze" movement, Israel-Palestine, and . . . well, that's it, but still, the administration is lacking a "grand strategy—or strategists." Where's Obama's Kissinger, Brzezinski or Condi?

First, on that "nuclear freeze" bit, former–State Department official James Rubin predicts in the New York Times the end of "the age of the treaty," as evidenced by the likely-to-fail ratification of the New START arms-control pact. Instead, Rubin suggests doing the the same thing through domestic legislation, which would require only a simple majority of Congress to vote yes, instead of two-thirds of the Senate. In this partisan era, Rubin writes, treaties are just "too hard to ratify."

Scott Johnson suggests Obama's foreign policy is even more anachronistic than Diehl thinks, comparing it to the "McGovernite credo" of the 1970s (he doesn't mention how the surge in Afghanistan fits into that analogy, however). Jennifer Rubin does bring up Afghanistan, though, saying that the president's "inept" approach "is made all the more curious by the fact that sometimes he gets it right" (i.e., because he listened to General David Petraeus on Afghanistan and Iraq.) Hugh Hewitt claims that the administration's grand strategy is inchoherent, "unnerving allies and emboldening foes across the globe." On the other hand hand, Michael Cohen calls Diehl's op-ed "strange" and "silly," and asks, "Honestly what planet is [he] living on?"

Speaking of people that seem to inhabit alternate realities, the North Korean regime has been spotted building additional nuclear facilities that U.S. officials suspect will enable the DPRK to develop more atomic weapons. The revelation has apparently caught Seoul completely off guard. Not so the Wall Street Journal, which thinks the discovery "right on schedule, another nuclear nuclear blackmail attempt." But Stanford scholars Robert Carlin and John Lewis—who actually visited the North Korean uranium-enrichment facility "not two weeks ago"—urge policy makers not to subscribe to such thinking, as ignoring and pressuring Pyongyang has "helped put us in this policy dilemma." They write in the Post that America needs a "creative" approach, going "back to square one" by "accepting the existence" of the DPRK "as it is."