Political attitudes are beginning to catch up to a quiet sea change in American foreign policy: progressive policy success is earning public trust, while conservative overreach is facing a backlash from voters and our military leadership. As The Washington Post's David Ignatius notes, among other things, alliances are stronger, Iran is weaker and al Qaeda is on the run. Lacking a substantive counterattack, conservatives have resorted to undermining the ideal of civilian leadership enshrined in our Constitution -- attacks that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey calls "offensive." Former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke commented that conservative candidates' attacks "are telling voters in advance that there is an important part of the president's job that they are unwilling to perform."
With Congress heading home to their constituencies this weekend, conservatives are continuing their attacks on President Obama’s foreign policy. These attacks have followed a familiar pattern – conservatives reflexively attack Obama in every way possible in the hopes that one of their claims stick – even if the attacks contradict each other. For example, neoconservative Elliot Cohen argued yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that Obama’s foreign policy is the same as the Bush administration’s, even as former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, former State Department official Liz Cheney, assert that Obama is dismantling Bush-era policies that protect America. These arguments are incoherent and baseless.
After eight years of the U.S. leaving international summits empty handed with no deliverables to speak of, the U.S.-Russian summit that wrapped up in Moscow today stands in stark contrast. President Obama, determined to reset U.S.-Russian relations and place them on a more productive and business-like track, focused on a number of core issues – arms control, Afghanistan, military cooperation, and proliferation threats. On each he achieved important deliverables. After eight years of inept diplomacy, it is refreshing that an American administration is finally able to use diplomacy as a tool to enhance American security. Yet many extreme conservatives seem to be fighting the Cold War all over again.
Iran erupted this weekend following claims from the regime that President Ahmadinejad had been overwhelming reelected. Supporters of the main opposition candidate, former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi, quickly took to the streets in protest. The regime has cracked down brutally, detained many opposition leaders, placed Moussavi under watch, evicted and detained foreign journalists, and attempted to block protestors ability to communicate and organize by blocking text messaging and internet access.