Writing for the Los Angeles Times, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton punches holes in Barack Obama's much lauded Berlin speech, which the Obama campaign built up before hand as his first major foreign policy pronouncement.
Obama used the Berlin Wall metaphor to describe his foreign policy priorities as president: "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."
This is a confused, nearly incoherent compilation, to say the least, amalgamating tensions in the Atlantic Alliance with ancient historical conflicts. One hopes even Obama, inexperienced as he is, doesn't see all these "walls" as essentially the same in size and scope. But beyond the incoherence, there is a deeper problem, namely that "walls" exist not simply because of a lack of understanding about who is on the other side but because there are true differences in values and interests that lead to human conflict. The Berlin Wall itself was not built because of a failure of communication but because of the implacable hostility of communism toward freedom. The wall was a reflection of that reality, not an unfortunate mistake.
Tearing down the Berlin Wall was possible because one side -- our side -- defeated the other. Differences in levels of economic development, or the treatment of racial, immigration or religious questions, are not susceptible to the same analysis or solution. Even more basically, challenges to our very civilization, as the Cold War surely was, are not overcome by naively "tearing down walls" with our adversaries.
Huffington Post has in-depth coverage with photos, video and the full transcript. Judge for yourself.
UPDATE: It's also worth dropping in a quote from Batavia's own Bill Kauffman on Obama's rootlessness and what it means for his foreign policy (read the whole essay because Kauffman is equally hard on John McCain):
Obama's limitless internationalism is encapsulated in his statement that "When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern." This is, quite possibly, the most expansive definition ever essayed of the American national interest. It is a license for endless interventions in the affairs of other nations. It is a recipe for blundering into numberless wars-which will be fought, disproportionately, by those God & Guns small-town Americans evidently despised or pitied by Mr. Obama. It is redolent of the biblical assurance that not even a sparrow can fall to the earth unnoticed by God. The congruence of the roles of the deity and U.S. foreign policy in Obama's mind is not reassuring to those of us who desire peace and a modest role for the U.S. military.
Here's another UPDATE: Just came across this assertion on Reason's Hit and Run:
I definitely agree with Andrew Bacevich that an Obama victory discredits the Iraq project, while a McCain victory validates it. But McCain and Obama want the same thing, for Americans to be proud of their country again vis-a-vis its engagement in foreign conflicts. Put another way: I don't think an Obama victory discredits neoconservatism. He's offering neoconservatism with a human face.
So, are you ready to elect a liberal neocon?