Leave it to Fouad Ajami to put out the best article I have yet seen on the differences between McCain and Obama on foreign policy. Entitled, “The Foreign Policy Difference,” it makes no claim as to which foreign policy framework is better, nor do I, but if you want to get to the heart of the very different ways in which McCain and Obama see America’s role in the world, you should read this article.

  • James

    Give me a break. That opinion article was not the balanced essay you led us to believe. It very obviously painted McCain as being a “patriot” while Obama is a liberal ivory tower academic out of touch with “average Americans.”
    That was simply a horrible, completely biased opinion article, and I honestly do not see how that gets to the heart of the different views on America’s role in the world.

  • damienics

    “The Obama way is glib: It glides over the world without really taking it in. It has to it that fluency with political and economic matters that can be acquired in a hurry, an impatience with great moral and political complications. The lightning overseas trip, the quick briefing, and above all a breezy knowingness. Mr. Obama’s way is the way of his peers among the liberal, professional elite.”
    Seriously? He’s basically falling back on the “effete liberal” caricature that’s been stomped to death by the Republicans. Just because Ajami is competent with the written word, shrouding his bias in highfaluting language, doesn’t mean he has painted an accurate picture of both candidates. The guy was a fellow at the Hoover Institution for god’s sake, not exactly the fount of balanced political ideology.
    And how does one acquire a “fluency” in a “hurry”? A contradiction it seems, given that fluency implies a studied mind of considerable intellectual heft. If anything, Obama’s much more nuanced in his thinking about politics and morality. But according to the author, this simply suggests that the Democrats are shallow wimps. McCain, on the other hand, was a soldier and will always be a soldier. Hooray for binary thinking.
    How this can be construed as unbiased is beyond me, which calls into question the blogger’s misleading plug.

  • Dan

    James & Damienics,
    Maybe I have been living on the West Coast too long, but I thought that the article essentially contrasts the new foreign policy of Obama with the 1950s foreign policy of McCain. Obama wants the US to be liked and eschews the military. McCain doesn’t care about being liked and sees military solutions everywhere. I think this is a fairly accurate assessment and since the American polity seems to be split pretty much 50-50 on this, I find it very interesting that you view the portrayal of Obama on this as harsh.
    My position would be probably right between the two. I think it important to be both liked and, when necessary, feared.

  • Cyndee

    I am writing from Canada. I am not American and will not be voting in the American election. I am writing from the perspective of a non-American looking in – and I think that Dan’s original characterization of the article is fair and that some of the other posted comments fail to look at the piece through a foreigner’ eyes. The problem with any posting about the U.S. election or the candidates is that the American people are so divided and the two political camps are in the middle of struggle (called an election campaign). Obama supporters dislike McCain (I do not like to use the word “hate” even thoough it may be more appropriate in some cases) and McCain supporters dislike Obama.
    It would be more helpful to the foreigners who cannot participate in the election process if comments helped us understand better the differences between the candidates – rather than criticizing the person sharing the information.

  • Glen Wilkins

    “My position would be probably right between the two. I think it important to be both liked and, when necessary, feared.”
    “Feared?” What about “respected?” What about potentially aggressive foreign powers appreciating our military capabilities rather than smirking at our ill-conceived boondoggle in Iraq? Remind me again which hawkish Neocons fought for up-armored Humvees or to provide enough troops to ensure security the first time around in Iraq and Afghanistan? Remind me which Republican “military solution” brought Osama Bin Laden to justice. Oh, that’s right, that never happened. Fear indeed.
    McCain is fighting (and losing) yesterday’s wars. His answer for everything is more bombs (bomb Iran, the surge) and that’s precisely why Vietnam was lost. We dumped all kinds of ordinance in South East Asia and still lost the ground war. Has anyone cracked a history book lately? I guess everyone is too busy swooning over Sarah Palin.

  • Dan

    Cyndee,
    Thanks. I think you are right. I am not terribly enamored with either McCain or Obama and that seems to anger nearly everybody, and it is because both sides have now convinced themselves that their candidates are the second coming. They are not.
    I have taken to reading the non-US press on the election and it is amazing how much unique insight one can find there.

  • Dan, love the stuff as always, but do you have to put multiple links in each post? Sometimes I click on both by mistake.
    Cheers!

  • Nate

    That article sounds rather biased to me. Notice that he spends most of his time talking about Obama and hardly says anything about McCain. If it were a balanced analysis you might expect each candidate to get more or less equal of space. The opening paragraph puts Obama in a negative light, and that sets the stage for the whole article. Fouad Ajami further tells us Obama is aloof and that he has said nasty things about the working classes, McCain has too, but he doesn’t see fit to mention that. He repeatedly refers to Obama as a member of the elite which is true, but he never mentions that McCain is as well. The author makes Obama sound like a silly fool by suggesting that he is going to try to use his biography to change the world, and remarkably for an article that claims to be talking about policy differences, this is the only foreign policy initiative the author suggests that either candidate is likely to carry out. The last paragraph make the authors opinion crystal clear:
    “For Mr. Obama, the race is about the claims of modernism. There is “cool,” and the confidence of the meritocracy in him. The Obama way is glib: It glides over the world without really taking it in. It has to it that fluency with political and economic matters that can be acquired in a hurry, an impatience with great moral and political complications. The lightning overseas trip, the quick briefing, and above all a breezy knowingness. Mr. Obama’s way is the way of his peers among the liberal, professional elite.
    Once every four years, ordinary Americans go out and choose the standard-bearer of their nationalism. Liberalism has run away with elite culture. Nationalism may be out of fashion in Silicon Valley. But the state — and its citadel, the presidency — is an altogether different calling.”
    Notice the image of a clueless mediocre know-it-all attached to that of the liberal professional elite, and juxtaposed with ordinary Americans who want a nationalist leader (which the author has already said Obama is not).
    There are more things in there, but it’s too much to write it all out.
    The author is clearly in favor of a strongly nationalist and imperialist America lead by McCain.
    I’m sorry if that came off as a bit harsh. I really do find your blog very interesting and informative and I read it whenever I have the time.