Sunday, June 07, 2009

Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama

In the Washington Post, Robert Kagan argues that Barack Obama is acting like Woodrow Wilson.

Like Wilson's, Obama's foreign policy increasingly seems to rest on the assumption that nations will act on the basis of what they perceive to be the goodwill, good intentions or moral purity of other nations, in particular the United States. If other nations have refused to cooperate with us, it is because they perceive the United States as aggressive or evil.

Kagan even uses Latin American examples to prove this point, but seems to have no idea at all what Wilsonian foreign policy meant in the region. Wilson's concern was not perception of goodwill, but rather whether he believed a given government or leader was sufficiently "civilized" and "Westernized" to meet his specifications.

If they were not, then his response was invasion or some other means of removing the leader by force--ask all the countries he sent troops to and/or occupied (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc.). In his view, their moral failings required action by the most upright and righteous country in the world, no matter what they thought about it.

In other words, like Obama, Wilson did talk about how he wanted to improve upon the record of past presidents. The big difference, though, is that Wilson invaded more and intervened more than most of his predecessors. It is very hard to see that happening with Obama.

1 comments:

sharon 3:38 AM  

thanks for the link...

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Sharon
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