Tuesday, January 26, 2010

most reactionary president since nixon?

Guardian | The unthinking adulation Obama received would have turned the most level-headed man into an egomaniac. In his first year, he acted as if it was enough not to be Bush, as if his charisma and oratorical brilliance could persuade dangerous leaders to change their behaviour. He cannot believe that after a year of failure. He abandoned Bush's missile defence programme in an attempt to charm Putin and received no concessions in return. Similarly, his creeping to Ahmadinejad has not produced any diplomatic rewards. Kissinger and Nixon were terrifying figures, who, in the name of "realism", endorsed regimes that persecuted opponents from East Timor to Chile. Obama, by contrast, doesn't frighten anyone.

I am glad to see that he turned away last week from the advisers who urged him not to reform Wall Street. Perhaps he is preparing a similar U-turn in foreign policy. In the past month, there have been tentative signs of a change of emphasis. In his Nobel peace prize lecture, he was unequivocal in his support for universal rights and departed from his prepared text to assert that, after all, he was on the side of the Iranian revolutionaries. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has finally managed to speak out in plain language against the censorship of the web by China, Egypt and other dictatorships.

Let us hope that these swallows herald a summer, because if they do not we will be stuck with an American president who combines the weakness of Jimmy Carter with the morals of Richard Nixon.

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