Victor Davis Hanson complains about so-called “neo-isolationism” under Obama:
Conservatives have jumped on the president’s trivial gestures — the “apology tour,” the bows to foreign authoritarians and monarchs. In isolation, these would be irrelevant, but they reflect an underlying policy of multipolarity and multilateralism.
Obama’s apparent neutrality in the matter of the “Malvinas,” his initial pressure on Israel about the settlements, his courting of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman Turkey, his seeking of the permission of the Arab League and the United Nations (but not the U.S. Congress) to intervene in Libya — all send signals that there is no privilege to be derived from being a supporter of America or its values.
If there’s one thing I’ll never quite figure out, it’s how an “underlying policy of multipolarity and multilateralism” can ever be “neo-isolationist,” but Hanson wants us to believe that the U.S. under Obama is “neo-isolationist.” It helps that Hanson is using all these terms as insults, but it should occur to Hanson at some point while writing this article that these are opposing positions. If Obama were a “neo-isolationist,” he wouldn’t seek the approval of regional and international institutions for much of anything, much less make it a requirement before going to war. If he were a “neo-isolationist,” it is doubtful that he would be trying to rebuild the relationship with Turkey that his predecessor wrecked and he has handled poorly in the past. Of course, Hanson’s use of “neo-isolationist” is just intended as mockery. That is the thing Republican hawks are trained to call the people they attack, and so that is what Hanson calls Obama.
What stands out in Hanson’s catalogue of errors is the sheer irrelevance of most of what he’s talking about. The “apology tour” never happened. It’s pure fiction. U.S. neutrality over the Falklands dates back decades. Obama’s position is essentially no different from the one taken by his predecessors dating back to Reagan. It is only now that Hanson and other hawks pretend to care about this neutrality, because they think they can shoehorn it into a bogus narrative about allies betrayed. Obama has been “courting” Erdogan (a.k.a., trying to repair the horribly damaged U.S.-Turkish relationship). What is Hanson’s point? Once we set aside the silly “neo-Ottoman” distortion, which is every bit as silly as the “neo-isolationist” one, why does this bother Hanson? He doesn’t explain here, but it’s presumably because the relationship with Turkey that the previous administration trashed so stupidly is slowly being repaired, which reflects poorly on the administration that wrecked it in the first place.
I talked about Bush’s role in creating the bankruptcy of Republican foreign policy thinking earlier today. This Hanson article is a good exhibit of that bankruptcy on full display.