Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Feaver Swamp

So this fellow, Peter Feaver, was mentioned by Sully's temp Zach Beauchamp as an "Yglesias Award" nominee. That award is for someone who acknowledges good points made by his political opponent or admits error by his own side or some such thing--that is, it's basically for intellectual honesty.

Thing is, Feaver is not really acknowledging error by conservatives, except tactically speaking. He's really just urging them to reject their transparent sophistries in favor of slightly more sophisticated sophistries.

Republicans must come to terms with the fact that this will be the strongest Democrat incumbent on national security and foreign policy they have faced in decades. This has more than a whiff of damnation with faint praise, since both President Clinton and especially President Carter were hobbled with substantial national security baggage during their reelection campaign. But for precisely that reason, I think Republicans have sometimes settled for an intellectually lazy critique because, given how weak the opposing party's record is, that seems to have sufficed.
Ah, yes. The Dems have a "weak record" on foreign policy. The Dems who shepherded us successfully through two world wars. The Dems who are routinely the anchors of sanity in our foreign policy. They have a weak foreign policy record.

The GOP, however...they have a stronger record? The GOP that has never met a pro-America dictator that it didn't like? The GOP that gave totalitarian communism basically its only PR advantage by routinely backing said evil dictators? The GOP that then, for inscrutable reasons, is wont to then demand pseudo-humanitarian wars to remove the dictators that it installed?

But let's cut to the comparative chase.

Obama's record is weak compared to who's? This is obviously a comparative judgment at bottom, and it's the GOP that is supposed to have the better record. The lack of contact with reality on this point by the GOP is astonishing. Republicans have been a foreign policy disaster basically my entire life. And the last Republican president was a catastrophe...yet still they somehow maintain their fantastical belief that they are the foreign policy grownups, and the Dems are...what? Naive n00bs? George W. Bush, who managed to turn the unprecedented outpouring of intense pro-U.S. sentiment after 9/11 into intensely anti-U.S. sentiment, by launching a $3 trillion, counter-productive war at an unrelated target, while letting Osama bin Laden get away? That's successful foreign policy?

One common conservative error is to confuse heard-heartedness with tough-mindedness. They think that the Dems concessions to reason and fairness is some kind of weakness, and that John Boltonesque contempt for such things is somehow equivalent to intelligence. And that's absurd.

Feaver's suggestions for better anti-Obama sophistries? Hope you're sitting down for this...
1. Obama's foreign policy successes have come when he has followed Bush policies; his failures have come when he has struck out on his own.

2. Obama has made relatively effective use of the tools and instruments of power that he inherited from his predecessor -- it raises the question, what new tools and instruments of power is Obama bequeathing to his successor?
Yep. Bush's masterful foreign policy puissance is what has enabled Obama's successes. By following in the footsteps of the biggest foreign policy flop of the last century or so, Obama has somehow been successful. The policies didn't work for Bush, but, hey, as we know, Republican failures cannot be judged to be failures in less-than-infinite time frames.

How anyone can say this stuff with a straight face is beyond me. Feaver deserves no praise here, and he in particular deserves no praise for any kind of intellectual honesty.


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