Sheldon Richman on Obama's Straw Interventionists and Isolationists


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In Barack Obama's recent address to West Point graduates, as in other speeches on foreign policy, Obama tried to position himself in what he likes to portray as the reasonable center. On the one side is "isolationism," which he positions as "ignor(ing) what happens beyond our borders." On the other are those he calls "the interventionists," who advocate U.S. military action as "the only—or even primary—component" of foreign policy. 

Note how Obama stakes out his "moderate" position: by misrepresenting what he stigmatizes as "isolationism" and creating a straw interventionist to oppose. Obama needs this caricature, argues Sheldon Richman, so he can portray himself as the reasonable and moderate voice in the room. But you'd strain your eyes to find differences between Obama and the people he calls "interventionists." Obama's record reveals a belief that the U.S. has license to police the world.