Monday, November 24, 2008

Wall Street Journal takes notice of Obama-Scowcroft nexis

As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama has been co-opting the Republican foreign policy realists surrounding Brent Scowcroft and isolating the Neo-conservatives. The Wall Street Journal notes,

Many of the Republicans emerging as potential members of the Obama administration have professional and ideological ties to Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser turned public critic of the Bush White House.

Mr. Scowcroft spoke by phone with President-elect Barack Obama last week, the latest in a months-long series of conversations between the two men about defense and foreign-policy issues, according to people familiar with the discussions...

Mr. Scowcroft's re-emergence caps a tumultuous few years for the 83-year-old former Air Force general. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Scowcroft wrote an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal arguing against an invasion and warning that it would "seriously jeopardize, if not destroy" the Bush administration's war on terrorism. In speeches and interviews, he regularly criticized both the decision to invade Iraq and the Bush team's handling of the war effort.

The White House responded by removing Mr. Scowcroft from his position as chairman of a foreign intelligence advisory board. Defenders of the Bush policy say the president has planted the seeds of democracy in the Middle East and preserved strong ties with Israel, which had a tense relationship with the elder President Bush when Mr. Scowcroft was national-security adviser.

Mr. Scowcroft, who stayed neutral in this year's presidential campaign, is a prominent advocate of a "realist" approach to foreign policy that favors deal-making over the ideological commitments the second Bush administration was known for.

Co-opting the realists who were so marginalized during the Bush years is a smart strategic move. By isolating the Neo-conservatives now he has the ability to all but snuff out their power and influence in Washington. As we've seen these last 8 years an unrepentant Neo-conservative foreign policy is dangerous for America and dangerous for the world. The quicker that they can be ushered to the political wilderness the better.

Yglesias provides more context,

To understand the context for this, it’s important to recall that the ideological spectrum around foreign policy elites isn’t sorted all that well. On economic issues, moderate Republicans are almost all still to the right of moderate Democrats. But on foreign policy, traditional Republican realists have a lot more in common with liberal Democrats than either do with Democratic hawks. Both are likely to have opposed the Iraq War or soured on it early. Both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that we should base our foreign policy on self-righteousness. Both are likely to appreciate the importance of taking a balanced approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that the highest expression of humanitarian impulses is launching unilateral wars surrounded by high-minded rhetoric.

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