Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Policy Redefined

I have certainly not been alone in being baffled by Obama’s incoherent and inconsistent positions on foreign policy. Why, for instance, make didactic statements about how “Assad must go,” when we have neither the means or the influence to make that happen? Why the list of fifteen reasons why we are in Afghanistan, none of which make any sense whatever? The list of questions is almost endless.

Then a blog commenter made a remark which lit the lightbulb. He said that Obama regards foreign policy as an extension of domestic policy. That made very little sense to me until his amplification revealed that by “policy” he meant “the means by which Obama pursues his own political success.” Ah, yes. That’s when the light dawned.

That’s what “policy” has come to mean in today’s political arena. It is no longer a set of principles which guide governance, it is a series of actions by which individual politicians advance their own political success. This is by no means limited to Obama, but as the Chief Executive of our nation, his practice of it is the most damaging.

As the commenter pointed out, “Obama's trip to Israel, for example, accomplished nothing internationally. However, it did quiet the daily attacks by the Israel Firsters in the US.” Which is exactly what it was intended to accomplish and is the point being made by the commenter.

Guantanamo is another case in point. So long as it was not damaging him politically, Obama did not care that it remained open and served as a severe blot on our national escutcheon. He did not care that, in his words, “it is not who we are.” He did not care that it was serving as a rally cry for the recruiting of soldiers in the “holy war” against us. But when the hunger strike called attention to the gulag which he had promised more than four years ago to close, he suddenly became overwhelmed with a passion to close it. What changed? The risk of it damaging his political success changed.

Republicans are “serious about cutting spending,” until it becomes politically risky to do so. They are opposed to Obama’s proposal to reduce the Social Security COLA, for instance. They oppose defense spending cuts that “will make America weaker,” which strikes me as silly, but is supported by many who are terrified of… You get my point.

We are no longer governed in the best interest of the nation as a whole, and certainly not in the interest of the common man. We are governed in the interest of assuring the political success of the people who are governing us, which is a form of government that is hard to define. It most certainly is not democracy.

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