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  • The Second Coming of Jimmy Carter?

    Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Walter Russell Mead writes at Foreign Policy:

    Neither a cold-blooded realist nor a bleeding-heart idealist, Barack Obama has a split personality when it comes to foreign policy. So do most U.S. presidents, of course, and the ideas that inspire this one have a long history at the core of the American political tradition. In the past, such ideas have served the country well. But the conflicting impulses influencing how this young leader thinks about the world threaten to tear his presidency apart — and, in the worst scenario, turn him into a new Jimmy Carter.

    It is not only Americans who will challenge the new American foreign policy. Will Russia and Iran respond to Obama’s conciliatory approach with reciprocal concessions — or, emboldened by what they interpret as American weakness and faltering willpower, will they keep pushing forward? Will the president’s outreach to the moderate majority of Muslims around the world open an era of better understanding, or will the violent minority launch new attacks that undercut the president’s standing at home?

    If Obama’s foreign policy collapses — whether sunk by Afghanistan or conflicts not yet foreseen — into the incoherence and reversals that ultimately marked Carter’s well-meaning but flawed approach, it will be even more difficult for future presidents to chart a prudent and cautious course through the rough seas ahead.

    Astute analysis. Here is what Heritage scholar James Carafano wrote in October 2009:

    He followed an unpopular president. He received a strong election mandate. He changed the tone in Washington.

    He said that Human Rights mattered. That America’s image in the world had to be remade.

    He would receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

    As the end of his presidency’s first year drew near, the future looked bright. He had brought change — change that mattered.

    It was 1977. The next year was very bad…

    Why did things go south for Carter so fast? Because America’s enemies had taken measure of the man during his first, change-filled year in office. They saw weaknesses they could exploit. In the second year, they made their move.

    The rhetoric of soft power is inspiring and ever hopeful. But unless the nation seems firmly committed to backing that soft power with some hard muscle, those with no love of America will interpret the rhetoric as the vapid mooings of a nation in retreat.

    That interpretation could make 2010 a year of living dangerously.

    Nobody wants to see the resurgence of autocracies in Iran and Russia, or chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, or emboldened leftists throughout our own hemisphere. But the parallels between the failures of Jimmy Carter and the challenges of President Obama are growing every day.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to The Second Coming of Jimmy Carter?

    1. Jim, Cumming, GA says:

      We can only pray that the second coming of Ronald Reagan will follow.

    2. Charles N.Y. says:

      I am certainly not an expert on foreign affairs and I am not against lending a helping hand to other nations in time of need, such as Haiti. What I strongly disagree with is putting our nose in other nations policies and how they choose to run THEIR nation. We also have sent and continue to send trillions and trillions of dollars to countries all over the world. We can't even take care of our own unemployed,sick,poor,homeless,veterans,illegal immigration and the list goes on and on. Why do we continue to do this? Why should we be policing and financing the world while we have enormous problems right here at home? When will this ever end? Our government has a responsibilty to serve and protect "WE THE PEOPLE", and I believe our founding fathers were reffering to WE AMERICANS not everyone in the world. What will be left for OUR children and grandchildren if our government continues playing big brother to the rest of the world. Who is going to bail US out when we end up a third world country? It is absolutely discusting what our government is doing to the people of OUR country. I don't want my children going to war to fight for the democracy of other nations who don't even wan't it. Let them worry about themselves. Let them all blow each other up if that's what they want to do. Bring our military home use them to protect our borders,patrol our oceans, fight drug trafficing,illegal immigration, organized crime, lawless gang members work with the CIA,FBI, local police and so on. AMERICA can once again be the greatest nation on earth if we put AMERICA first.

    3. Janet Palmer says:

      The comparison is right on. Those of us who remember the Carter Years are more involved today. There is a strong awakening and a realization that we must get involved and take back our government. This grassroots movement is bigger than most realize. Lookout in November!!!!!!!!!. If you are not involved, get involved. It's our country.

    4. Jim says:

      There does appear to be a strong resemblance of Obama to Carter. They both are very weak on making national security decisions and both can't stomach war although it is sometimes quite necessary to protect our nation. They both say one thing and then do another. Neither seem to grasp fiscal responsibility which is important for our country to exist. They both fight battles for crooks and terrorists that the US should be protected from. Obama may also become a lame duck pres just like Jimmy.

    5. Gerald Puckett, Chic says:

      In order to be a good and effective national leader you must know what is right and have the courage to do it regardless of the cost to you. Jimmy Carter didn't do it and this man (Barack Obama) doesn't seem to want to do anything right for this country. He evidently doesn't understand that nearly all Americans were brought up to do good work and to be proud of their work, therefore building a better America. We don't want somebody to do things for us that they think we need or want. We want to do for ourselves and be able to be proud of what we have done for whomever we have done it when it comes our turn to meet our Lord God!

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    7. J.R. Charlotte, Mich says:

      Conn, your right wing slant is noted.

    8. Thingumbobesquire, B says:

      Watch the Pollsters Attempt to Change the Agenda Now That Obama's Down for the Count

      Boys and girls– here's the new game in town. And it goes like this: The media, like the son of a mother dog that we so well know it to be, will forthwith put in for its usual Mutt and Jeff routine, now that Obama has incompetently run afoul of the Families' agenda. Polls are now going to show more and more Americans are excruciatingly worried about the deficit. Of course this is pure manipulation. The Republican party is ginning up this Simple Simon brand of Joe six pack falderol a la that s-l-o-w drawling Republican version of Al Gore's schoolmarm, Phil Gramm and his kitchen table economics for kindergarteners: Mr. and Mrs. America (he twangs): the government has to pay as you go just like you and me. Ergo, the Mutt and Jeff ragtime. So John Q., you aren't ready for deathcare euthanasia a la the Obama kill your granny meme? Well here's what you are telling us now you want in this latest poll: you demand budget cuts: soto voce–read Schachtian austerity. Come on, you know you want it. After all, money rules the world don't it? Pleased to meet you, I hope you guess my name. Woo hoo hoo. Hail her royal satanic majesty. Hail Satania!

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