Monday, April 6, 2009

They're Just Figuring This Out?

Hopey-changitude is, to the shock of some, not all it was cracked up to be. Michael Tomasky in The Guardian:

the idea has taken root, in America and to a considerable extent elsewhere, that the rest of the world should be so grateful to be dealing with Obama and not Bush that they'll at least come to the table and see reason.

But as the North Korea episode shows, not everyone is so reasonable. To the men of Pyongyang, Obama is just another imperialistic swine. In fact, if they're dialecticians worth their salt, then they surely think of Obama as all the more dangerous than Bush for the precise reason that he gives imperialism a friendlier face. North Korea, like any state, has national interests, carved out by decades of history (fear of unification) or centuries (fear of China). The fact that it's a genocidal and secretive police state only exacerbates matters. The bottom line is, the North Koreans are going to do what they think they need to do. Having obviously never read their Carlyle, they couldn't care less who the American president is.

Neither could the Iranians, and neither, probably, could the Syrians. Obama wants certain things out of both of them - the former to give up its nuclear ambitions and move toward a more open society, the latter to come to some kind of terms with Israel and to reach a permanent accommodation on Hezbollah and the Lebanese question. But are they going to wake up one day and say to themselves: by golly, this Obama fellow is the most popular president in maybe all of history, we'd better do what he says? Not likely.

Neither are the Pakistanis and the Indians. Nor are Likud and Hamas. And we learned last week that adoration has its limits even among the closest of friends. Europe is not helping out much militarily on Afghanistan. This isn't because Obama wasn't persuasive enough. It's because nations have interests as they perceive them, and they will act to protect those interests (and because democratic societies have public opinion, which is strongly against such assistance across Europe).

To quote a noted American philosopher, "Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!"

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