Conservative David Brooks’ column in today’s New York Times claims that the Barack Obama’s foreign policy is not change but really is continuity of ideas developed by people in the Bush Administration.
[Defense Secretary Robert] Gates does not talk about spreading democracy, at least in the short run. He talks about using integrated federal agencies to help locals improve the quality and responsiveness of governments in trouble spots around the world.
He has developed a way of talking about security and foreign policy that is now the lingua franca in government and think-tank circles. It owes a lot to the lessons of counterinsurgency and uses phrases like “full spectrum operations” to describe multidisciplinary security and development campaigns.
Gates has told West Point cadets that more regime change is unlikely but that they may spend parts of their careers training soldiers in allied nations. He has called for more spending on the State Department, foreign aid and a revitalized U.S. Information Agency. He’s spawned a flow of think-tank reports on how to marry hard and soft pre-emption.
The Bush administration began to implement these ideas, but in small and symbolic ways. ...
The clear, at least to me, implication of what David Brooks is saying in this column is that electing neo-cons John McCain and Sarah Palin would have meant a return to a the foreign policy of the first few years of the Bush Administration, to ideas and attitudes that the foreign policy wing of the Bush Administration led by Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates had realized years ago were failures and mistakes. Why didn’t David Brooks mention this before the election?