Obama’s liberal interventionism

According to Obama’s Wars: Liberal interventionism makes a comeback in Reason Magazine, Barack Obama–based on his policy speeches and perhaps more significantly his advisors–advocates the foreign policy philosophy of liberal interventionism. This view calls for armed intervention in “failed states.” Although Obama opposes the war in Iraq, he supports war in Afghanistan and has called for interventions in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Sudan.

Should anti-war liberals be concerned about this? Should conservatives give him credit? Or is this another case of ideologies being all mixed up. (Might the war in Iraq actually turn out to be an example of liberal interventionism?)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bruce

    “(Might the war in Iraq actually turn out to be an example of liberal interventionism?)”

    Only after a Democrat takes over the White House.

  • fw

    Obama speaks highly of the foreign policy of the senior bush. the senior bush pursued policies that were well within the tradition of us foreign policy over the past century.

    I think we could expect an obama presidency to look alot like the senior bush´s policies actually.

    Obama is indeed a liberal, but a conservative one. he favors preservation of the social programs put in place by democrats since the FDR new deal. Does that make him liberal or conservative?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Republicans hate wars started during a democratic president. (But normally don’t squawk as much). Democrats hate wars that are started during a republican presidency.
    Clinton ignore Iraq for eight years. He should have gone in when the treaties were first broken, and the U.N. inspectors were kicked out. But he ignored the problem. Yet Clinton got us involved in Bosnia, and the former Yugoslavia. I think we needed to get involved there, but I did think it peculiar there were no protests at that time. He got us involved in Somalia also, and the minute there was a black eye he quit fighting, which sent a message around the world that the U.S was weak, and would stand down at the first sign of hardship. In the end we did more bad for the people of that country than good.
    Historically the U.S. has had a policy of intervening in countries where it has an interest,(Trade, etc.) or which could threaten our own security. I’m not sure what the interest was in Somalia, but I hate to see the devastation there. Same goes for Zimbabwe. Though we might have to do something there, to prevent mass chaos breaking out all over Africa. Zimbabwe is another example of the failure of communism.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I wonder how Obama would man these wars? Has he spoken of such things ever?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Good question Bryan,
    But a democrat could get away with reinstating the draft. And that might be a good thing overall.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Note: Zimbabwe is a failure, but not a Communist one. Capitalism reigned foe a long time, but the initial fascist undertones took over. If anything, Mugabe is a fascist.

  • http://joeldueck.com Joel

    Zimbabwe most certainly is a communist failure. They were a real bright spot on the continent until the government siezed private farmland and redistributed it

  • Peter Leavitt

    The trouble with Obama is that no one knows where he really stands on issues or what are his basic principles. He has been a radical community organizer, follower of a “Christian” Afrocentic racist, Chicago machine politician, and the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007. Just now he is trying to pass as some sort of moderate statesman.

    Shelby Steele, a black writer argues in a WSJ article, The Obama Bargain argues that blacks by and large are either bargainers or challengers in relation to whites and have difficulty coming to terme with and articulating what they really think and believe. Steele writes:

    And yet, in the end, Barack Obama’s candidacy is not qualitatively different from Al Sharpton’s or Jesse Jackson’s. Like these more irascible of his forbearers, Mr. Obama’s run at the presidency is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance. Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson were “challengers,” not bargainers. They intimidated whites and demanded, in the name of historical justice, that they be brought forward. Mr. Obama flatters whites, grants them racial innocence, and hopes to ascend on the back of their gratitude. Two sides of the same coin.

    But bargainers have an Achilles heel. They succeed as conduits of white innocence only as long as they are largely invisible as complex human beings. They hope to become icons that can be identified with rather than seen, and their individual complexity gets in the way of this. So bargainers are always laboring to stay invisible. (We don’t know the real politics or convictions of Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey, bargainers all.) Mr. Obama has said of himself, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views . . .” And so, human visibility is Mr. Obama’s Achilles heel. If we see the real man, his contradictions and bents of character, he will be ruined as an icon, as a “blank screen.”

  • Anon

    It is helpful to understand who the Neo-cons are: They are the Truman/JFK/Jackson Democrats purged from the Party in the 73 Revolution in the Chicago Democrat National Convention (If I remember the date and locale correctly).

  • Anon

    Bror, Clinton lobbed nearly our *entire magazine* of cruise missiles at Iraq for eight years. To my knowledge, they have not been replenished.

    Clinton may have ignored *thinking* about Iraq, but he certainly didn’t leave Iraq alone.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    lobbing a cruise missile is not going in. Clinton lobbed those like a school yard boy lobs snowballs. He couldn’t be bothered by Iraq to do anything more about it. In effect he ignored it.

  • Sam

    Peter @8, in keeping with your remarks about Obama and the politics of blacks, here’s a good article that sheds like on the race question. I’ve posted the link and the first few paragraphs.

    http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/this-your-nation-white-privilege-updated

    “By Tim Wise

    For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

    White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

    White privilege is when you can call yourself a “f***in’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their f***in’ a**,” and talk about how you like to “shoot s***” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

    White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action. ”

    (more)

  • Anon

    Bryan, Obama has suggested that -all- Americans have a manditory term of service to the State. I suppose that this slavery could be served in the armed forces by some percentage of the populace.

    President Clinton also kept at least half of Iraq under occupation by Combat Air Patrol; the “no fly zones.” He may well have ignored its NBC weapons programs, as he did Al Quaeda in the Sudan, but those who say that only President Bush was involved militarily with Mesopotamia have forgotten their very recent history.

    As to race, there is only one living human race, biologically-speaking. To ignore reverse discrimination in colleges this long after 1964 is pretty bizarre.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Joel – regarding Zimbabwe: I’ve been there – pre-2000 – and it certaily was not a communist state. What happened after 2000 had nothing to do with Communism, but with neo-fascist and classic despotic behaviour. It has damaged the country incredibly.

    But to throw labels around without really knowing what is happening, or without bothering to understand both the label and the situation, is wrong. A bit like adolescent name-calling. Not every stick is good to beat a wrongdoer with.


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