As he said on occasion, George W. Bush was content to let history be his judge. Barack Obama’s associates do not, to put it mildly, exude that kind of quiet confidence. They don’t appear to believe posterity will prove their judgment sound, so they have instead elected to theatrically rend garments in the hope that their display will distract from posterity’s verdict.
The early days of the Trump administration were typified by the near ubiquity of “former Obama administration officials” in the press. Whether they were providing blind quotes to reporters or waxing contemplative about their own sagely conduct of American affairs, Team Obama seemed keen to attack every deviation from what they determined to be orthodox U.S. foreign policy. Their outrage over Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s latest comments is only the most recent hyperventilation.
“Tillerson says U.S. no more will condition foreign relationships on countries adopting US values such as human rights,” read the Associated Press headline. This team Obama could not abide.
“Brutal thugs are smiling,” bewailed Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. “Human rights are not only US values. They are universal. Trump/Tillerson approach is [a] green light for repression.”
“I guess [the] U.S. is stepping down as leader of the free world,” Obama’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation, Michael McFaul, lamented.
Even a handful of reporters felt compelled to express their profound sense of shame. “If Exxon had a foreign policy this would be it,” asserted Politico’s chief international affairs columnist, Susan Glasser.
These reactions and others resulted from a tendentious reading of Tillerson’s comments by the AP. The confusion is evident in how other news outlets reported on the secretary’s comments: “Sec. of State Tillerson says American values must be separate from American foreign policy, even as they ‘guide’ it,” ABC News declared without any apparent concern for that sentence’s aggravating contradictions.
A modest effort to dig past the headline revealed that Tillerson’s comments were, in fact, rather banal: “In some circumstances, if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals,” Tillerson told his colleagues. “It really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”
“It doesn’t mean that we leave those values on the sidelines,” Tillerson continued. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t advocate for and aspire to freedom, human dignity, and the treatment of people the world over.” America’s chief diplomat added that, in some cases, the United States will condition its bilateral relationships with other states based on “certain actions as to how they treat people.”
This is better known as “The Obama Doctrine.” Don’t take my word for it; take President Obama’s.
“I am also an idealist insofar as I believe that we should be promoting values, like democracy and human rights and norms and values,” Obama told The Atlantic’s Jeffry Goldberg in a 2016 interview auspiciously headlined, “The Obama Doctrine.” He continued: “Having said that, I also believe that the world is a tough, complicated, messy, mean place, and full of hardship and tragedy.”
Edited by grinreaper, 08 May 2017 - 09:35 PM.