[President Obama's] speeches at West Point and Oslo this year are pitch-perfect explications of the liberal internationalist approach. Other Democrats talk tough in a secular way, but Obama’s speeches were thoroughly theological. He talked about the “core struggle of human nature” between love and evil. . . .Tuesday's column was the most idiotic of David Brooks' week, but the week's not over yet.
Obama has not always gotten this balance right. He misjudged the emotional moment when Iranians were marching in Tehran. But his doctrine is becoming clear. The Oslo speech was the most profound of his presidency, and maybe his life.
Brooks seems to confuse speeches with policy, as if all Obama needs to do is begin a speech, "Fiat lux," and we will all be blinded by the brightness of a thousand suns. Brooks' paean to "the liberal internationalist approach" ignores the sequel to Woodrow Wilson's crusade to "Make the World Safe for Democracy," namely World War II, which ended with half of Europe under the Soviet heel, followed in turn by the bloody stalemate in Korea and the blundering "escalation" of Vietnam.
The fact that Brooks takes Obama at his word is no reason the rest of us should be so foolish. Nevertheless, given the actual consequences of "the liberal internationalist approach," if indeed this is what Obama is about, it shouldn't really be reassuring. Democratic Party foreign policy is not necessarily a straight line from Versailles through Yalta to the scene of helicopters rescuing Americans from the roof of the Saigon embassy, but it's a familar route nonetheless.
The Zeitgeist-sniffing Brooks shifts like the wind, yet is stubborn about exactly one thing, his refusal to acknowledge that liberals generally make a botch of whatever policy they influence. Brooks has probably been too busy admiring the crease of the president's pants-leg to notice anything else.