History, the News, Egypt, and American Foriegn Policy

Niall Fergusson, one of my favorite current historians recently wrote a piece in Newsweek that perfectly captures what I think is the best way to use history as a guide in determining the best way to act in the present.   Of course, he is slamming the current US Administration in this piece so that rather makes me happy too.   The piece is here.   He also went on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC and expanded on his views.

His biggest point is that the administration blew it with Egypt because they changed their mind so many times.   I love it how he uses a quote from Otto von Bismarck to illustrate what Obama did not do.   Here is the quote from the story:

“The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.

Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity … and missed it completely.

If that is not a perfect of explaining the US mistakes of the past few weeks, I do not know what is.   At every turn since the protest started in Tunisia, the administration has seemed dumbfounded and as if they had no idea what they wanted to do much less what they should do.   Instead, they have continually put statements out there that are contradictory and made the US look both ineffective and impotent. This is nothing new, Obama has been looking like a fool to the rest of the world since he got into office whether it was a “reset” button with Russia or a conciliatory, almost obsequious speech in Cairo to ignoring the Tehran protests; the image projected abroad of America for the past two years has been one of weakness.   Apparently, that is just the image the Administration wants to portray to the world right now.

I would submit that the advice of the 26th President is probably the best Foreign Policy advice America could ever have.   “Talk softly, and carry a big stick.”  Apparently, the liberal wing of American politics has forgotten that politics between nations is still all about power and that those nations that have none get walked on by those that do.   If you don’t believe me, you must not be watching the news over the last few years in the first place.

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