Fareed Zakaria at PostGlobal

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. He is a member of the roundtable of ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanapoulos" as well as an analyst for ABC News. And he is the host of a new weekly PBS show, "Foreign Exchange" which focuses on international affairs. His most recent book, "The Future of Freedom," was published in the spring of 2003 and was a New York Times bestseller and is being translated into eighteen languages. He is also the author of "From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role" (Princeton University Press), and co-editor of "The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World" (Basic Books). Close.

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. more »

Main Page | Fareed Zakaria Archives | PostGlobal Archives


Obama, Foreign Policy Realist

The rap on Barack Obama, at least in the realm of foreign policy, has been that he is a softheaded idealist who thinks that he can charm America's enemies. John McCain and his campaign, conservative columnists and right-wing bloggers all paint a picture of a liberal dreamer who wishes away the world's dangers. Even President Bush stepped into the fray earlier this year to condemn the Illinois senator's willingness to meet with tyrants as naive. Some commentators have acted as if Obama, touring the Middle East and Europe this week on his first trip abroad since effectively wrapping up the nomination, is in for a rude awakening.

These critiques, however, are off the mark. Over the course of the campaign against Hillary Clinton and now McCain, Obama has elaborated more and more the ideas that would undergird his foreign policy as president. What emerges is a world view that is far from that of a typical liberal, much closer to that of a traditional realist. It is interesting to note that, at least in terms of the historical schools of foreign policy, Obama seems to be the cool conservative and McCain the exuberant idealist.

No candidate for the presidency ever claims to have a doctrinal world view. Richard Nixon never said he loved realpolitik. Jimmy Carter never claimed to be a Wilsonian. There's no advantage to getting pigeonholed, and most politicians and even policy folk are clever enough to argue that they want to combine the best of all traditions. So John McCain says he's a "realistic idealist." Former national-security adviser Anthony Lake, who now counsels Obama, calls himself a "pragmatic neo-Wilsonian." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice describes herself as an "American realist."

Against that backdrop, Obama has been strikingly honest about his inclinations and inspirations. True, he begins by praising Harry Truman's administration, which in the foreign-policy world is a little like saying you admire George Washington. (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and John McCain have all cited Truman as a model.) But then Obama takes an unusual step, for a Democrat, and praises the administration of George H.W. Bush, one that is often seen as the most hardheaded or coldblooded (depending on your point of view) in recent memory. Obama has done this more than once, most recently in a conversation with me last week on CNN. And he is explicit about what he means. "It's an argument between ideology and foreign-policy realism. I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush," he told The New York Times's David Brooks in May.

Obama rarely speaks in the moralistic tones of the current Bush administration. He doesn't divide the world into good and evil even when speaking about terrorism. He sees countries and even extremist groups as complex, motivated by power, greed and fear as much as by pure ideology. His interest in diplomacy seems motivated by the sense that one can probe, learn and possibly divide and influence countries and movements precisely because they are not monoliths. When speaking to me about Islamic extremism, for example, he repeatedly emphasized the diversity within the Islamic world, speaking of Arabs, Persians, Africans, Southeast Asians, Shiites and Sunnis, all of whom have their own interests and agendas.

Obama never uses the soaring language of Bush's freedom agenda, preferring instead to talk about enhancing people's economic prospects, civil society and—his key word—"dignity." He rejects Bush's obsession with elections and political rights, and argues that people's aspirations are broader and more basic—including food, shelter, jobs. "Once these aspirations are met," he told The New York Times's James Traub, "it opens up space for the kind of democratic regimes we want." This is a view of democratic development that is slow, organic and incremental, usually held by conservatives.

Obama talks admiringly of men like Dean Acheson, George Kennan and Reinhold Niebuhr, all of whom were imbued with a sense of the limits of idealism and American power to transform the world. "In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly, Obama is deeply conservative," wrote Larissa MacFarquhar in her profile of him for The New Yorker. "There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It's not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good."

As important as what Obama says is what he passes up -- a series of obvious cheap shots against Bush. He could bash him for coddling China's dictatorship, urge him to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics or criticize his inaction in Darfur. In fact, Obama has been circumspect on all these issues, neither grandstanding nor overpromising. (This is, alas, not true on trade policy, where he has done both.)

Perhaps the most telling area where Obama has stuck to a focused conception of U.S. national interests is Iraq. Despite the progress in Iraq, despite the possibility of establishing a democracy in the heart of the Arab world, Obama's position is steely -- Iraq is a distraction, and the sooner America can reduce its exposure there, the better. I actually wish he were somewhat more sympathetic to the notion that a democratic Iraq would play a positive role in the struggle against Islamic extremism. But his view is certainly focused on America's core security interests and is recognizably realist. Walter Lippmann and George Kennan made similar arguments about Vietnam from the mid-1960s onward.

Ironically, the Republicans now seem to be the foreign-policy idealists, labeling countries as either good or evil, refusing to deal with nasty regimes, fixating on spreading democracy throughout the world and refusing to think in more historical and complex ways. "I don't do nuance," George W. Bush told many visitors to the White House in the years after 9/11. John McCain has had his differences with Bush, but not on this broad thrust of policy. Indeed it is McCain, the Republican, who has put forward some fanciful plans, arguing that America should establish a "League of Democracies," expel Russia from the Group of Eight industrialized countries and exclude China from both groups as well.

Obama's response to McCain's proposals on Russia and China could have been drafted by Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft. We need to cooperate with both countries in order to solve significant global problems, he told me last week, citing nuclear-proliferation issues with Russia and economic ones with China. The distinction between Obama and McCain on this point is important. The single largest strategic challenge facing the United States in the decades ahead is to draw in the world's new rising powers and make them stakeholders in the global economic and political order. Russia and China will be the hardest because they are large and have different political systems and ideological approaches to the world. Yet the benefits of having them inside the tent are obvious. Without some degree of great-power cooperation, global peace and stability becomes a far more fragile prospect.

Obama and McCain are obviously mixtures of both realism and idealism. American statesmen have always sought to combine the two in some fashion, and they are right to do so. A foreign policy that is impractical will fail and one that lacks ideals is unworthy of the United States. But the balance that each leader establishes is always different, and my main point is that Obama seems -- unusually for a modern-day Democrat -- highly respectful of the realist tradition. And McCain, to an extent unusual for a traditional Republican, sees the world in moralistic terms.

In the end, the difference between Obama and McCain might come down to something beyond ideology -- temperament. McCain is a pessimist about the world, seeing it as a dark, dangerous place where, without the constant and vigorous application of American force, evil will triumph. Obama sees a world that is in many ways going our way. As nations develop, they become more modern and enmeshed in the international economic and political system. To him, countries like Iran and North Korea are holdouts against the tide of history. America's job is to push these progressive forces forward, using soft power more than hard, and to try to get the world's major powers to solve the world's major problems. Call him an Optimistic Realist, or a Realistic Optimist. But don't call him naive.

Comments (147)

Ikhan:

After reading this article, frankly one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was, "I wonder which Obama the author was interviewing that day?" Honestly, I find that neither candidate gives me a woody or ,warm and fuzzy, but it is what it is and come November either McCain or Obama will be the next President. Big whoop! On the one hand you have this young guy, who happens to be the first black ever to get this close to being the president and for the most part I'm sure most people caught up in all that hoopla couldn't really care less what his stand is on any of the issues real or not, he is history in the making and history is to be made! Or, so they say. On the other hand, you have this guy who has given and dedicated the majority of his life to protecting and serving this country of ours, but who many see as too old and antiquated to be effective as the next president; When you think about it, in many ways McCain is history...living history. So whom do we choose? The guy who wants to make history and will pander to anyone including the author of this article to sell himself as the best candidate or the guy who is history, who has proven time and again that when the chips are down he can be counted on to cover our backs.

The author paints a nice even keeled picture of Obama and his stance on foreign affairs and depicts McCain as the bull in the proverbial china shop, but isn't the opposite more the truth? Isn't it more likely that McCain having been tested in battle, who, having viewed first hand the horrors of war would be more willing to tread lightly and still carry a big stick in protecting our interests and keeping those who would love to see us roasted on a spit at bay? Honestly, what can we reasonably expect from Obama? First off there is not much of a track record to go on is there? One term as a senator, right? There are those who would argue that there have been presidents with less experience, and that is true, but then the world was less sophisticated then as well. Wouldn't you agree? Obama, as young and promising as he appears, in my mind needs more seasoning. He has already shown a great penchant for waffling on issues and backtracking on his statements; neither of which are positive qualities. What kind of leader is that likely to make him? If he is that spineless in the national arena, Is that likely to make him any more effective as a world leader? Is he the kind of leader we want negotiating treaties and agreements with our enemies and foreign trading partners? Would he not appear so lame that those he would be required to deal with would see him as easy pickin's? Would they not be salivating at the prospect of walking away from the table having gotten the best of us because we took no clear positions or no standing of our ground on any issues? I shiver at the very thought!

No, I'm not at all happy with the choices we are left with, but in considering the two, I don't believe in change just for the sake of change, and I like a track record that can stand on it's own. I like a personal resume that says these are all the things I have accomplished with my life and based on that I have proven that I can get the job done. In that light, there really isn't much of a choice...is there?

John McCain is still fighting the Vietnam war.His sophistication rises to the level of " bomb, bomb, bomb,bomb-bomb Iran."He believes that invaders win civil wars.We are witnessing the resurrection of the dinosaurs,and after the neocons the last thing we need is someone who is dillusional in the White House.The world is far too complex for simplistic, unrealistic solutions. We have already created a mess of monumental proportions, and we can not have a hubristic bull in the china shop making it even more unresolvable.

The situation in the Caucasas calls for calm and reasoned diplomacy.We have militarized the former satellite members of the Soviet Socialist Union, installed " Star Wars " in the Czech Republic, threatened to encircled Russia with the NATO alliance, recognized Kosovo, and meddled in the " Stans". Is it a wonder that Russia ,given it's history, feels threatened and insecure?

We can not deal with the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the last thing we need is an idealistic crusader getting us into more problems. The only winners in this scenario are a military-industrial complex that imposes a real " death tax " on our civilization or oil grubbing dictatorships who trample on the hopes and aspirations of their people and fill the coffers of those who would paint the U.S. as the scapegoat for the evils of the world and who seek to destroy us.

To resolve the crisis in Iraq we needed the communist government of China. To denuclearize weapons of mass destruction and keep them out of the hands of terrorists that would use them and to resolve the dillemas in the Middle East, Russian help is indispensable. We need dialogue to deal with global warming, world hunger, water shortages,world hunger,and genicide to name a few.Messianic idealogues need not apply to settle the challenges of the 21st century.

The world must awake,reason must prevail, and the press should start doing it's job. Mr Zakaria's comments are a goood start.

sudhirprannath:

Mr Zakaria, what Mr. Obama says about Iraq is what the majority of Americans wants, to leave the Iraq, but the ground reality is totally different. There is not even 5 % chances that Iraq different consitiuents will come to a political solutions in near future. If the so call son of Iraq, the Suni group, on the American pay roll is not merged in Iraq's Army or police force, I think you are the best person to know the consequences. Shia Govt. will do the same thing what Saddam Hussain did to them to remain in power, but Suni will fight back.What will be the moral responsibility of Obama's and Decmocrats. Once America starts removeing the combat troops, it will not be easy for Obama to send them back.

Providence Candlelight:

Sadly, McCain squandered his hard earned, well deserved status as a true American hero by:

sucking up to the Bushes even after he had refused the kool-aid earlier.

It was:

stupid,
ignorant,
and
immoral.

Shame and pity on him.

Sincerely,
Providence Candlelight

zqll:

Amviennava asks: "What rules are you talking about?"

The same ones that the US and the international community have demanded. And belatedly, Obama.

Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past agreements.

As Obama said in his June 4, 2008 speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference:

"We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by past agreements."

Just a few weeks ago.

Rules to live by. But then again, Obama might change his mind.

He is the candidate of change, isn't he?

Obama speaking nicely to AIPAC. Hilarious!

The left must be having a hernia or something.

AMviennaVA:

zqll: "Yes, Hamas, was democratically elected, but once elected they failed to play by democratic rules." What rules are you referring to? As soon as Hammas won we decided to sever all contact with them. We then proceeded to declare the loser of the election, whom we had ignored for years before, as the legitimate partner for negotiations!

Bush has tried the tactic of not talking to the other side unless they agree with him first. Well, he has stated talking to Iran. We will talk to Hammas before long, just as Israel is. That is the only way to accomplish anything lasting.

AMviennaVA:

nacl: "In short Obama has forgotten that it was not Afghanistan or the Taliban who attacked us." I neither know nor care what Obama forgot. I DO remember that the attack came from organizations based in Afghanistan with full support by the Taliban. Who, by the way, are making a comeback. All this means is that we perhaps have 1 more opportunity to do what we should have done 7 years ago: eliminate the leadership of AlQaeeda and the Taliban. Bush was (and is) too incompetent to do it in 2001, and frankly we are setting ourselves up for the same now.

As for vital interests, our primary one is to have the shipping lanes open. They were before we invaded Iraq and created millions of refugees, who I am sure nurse a grudge against us that will haunt us for a long time.

David Kreda:

As I wrote much earlier, for those commenting "as if" Fareed Zakaria is somehow a leftist for calling Obama a foreign policy realist, the comments from a readily recognizable, quite right-of-center pundit, David Brooks (in February 2008 at Claremont McKenna college) should scotch that particular suspicion. Perhaps people get too worked up over the labels, since the realist label makes Obama appear the more world mature, and the idealist label makes McCain look more the world dreamer. I took from Zakaria's comments something a little less ad hominem: that Obama is less likely to enter the US into more open-ended conflict out of caution, and McCain is probably more prepared, as was Bush, to let loose hell and ... then ... just see. It seems that anyone in this debate can agree or not with the suitability of more or less military activism in our foreign engagements and yet agree that Zakaria's characterization of the habits of mind of each candidate to be a reasonably astute observation!

As I also read the comments, I discern some who find ultimate justice in our pre-occupation (pun intended) with Iraq rather than Afghanistan to be based on a type of utility separate from the terrorism, namely, the crucial utility of Iraq were it only to provide for the vast American dependency on foreign provision of oil. It is hard to imagine ANYONE disputing our staggering dependency (which, of course, is shared by almost all OECD countries). But it is even harder to ignore that we, as a nation, have done essentially nothing to address our profligacy during the Bush II years (nor before Bush II, when we were of course building up this dependency quite relentlessly).

Among the commentators on this column, some "hard power" foreign policy types seem to be owning up that the Iraq war is of course a resource war we needed to conduct and that the public arguments about terrorism as the motivator in this conflict were necessary principally to secure patriotic support. Without granting them their assumption that we needed to conduct a resource war, it is hard to see how they are wrong about the need to explain the war in terms of terrorism. If, after all, we Americans had to acknowledge that the sacrifice of thousands of our fellow citizens and the crippling of many more had as an ultimate rationale a simple mercantile payback, this unpopular war would have almost no support. The prioritization of combat in Iraq over combat Afghanistan and the wild lands of Northern Pakistan is pretty compelling evidence of the bait-and-switch!

To come full circle, the Obama critics, I think, see his refusal to go along publicly with the terrorism rationale for war in Iraq as damningly naive about the real rationale: resources. Not quite conversely, support for McCain by the same folks do not require that McCain actually agree with them on the mercantile reason; it only requires that he embrace the subterfuge for the war as very, very real. Put simply, McCain's support for the Iraq war is what makes them publicly badge McCain as experienced and realist in matters of the world and Obama neither experienced nor realist.

daniel:

Mr. Zakaria, it sounds like you saw in Obama yourself or what you wanted to see or what he wanted you to see or what choices America has left which are both McCains and Obamas choices or really all anyone cares to articulate at this moment which really cannot be anything other than both pessimism and optimism and which is anybodies choice. A piece of writing for anyone to see in it anything he or she wants to see...but it was pretty good.

zqll:

Serena, it only takes one ignorant statement to discredit everything else you have written. For example you say:

"There is much more to democracy than casting a vote. Bush forced the Palestinians into holding early elections, after which he did not like the outcome. Despite Hamas being democratically elected, to this day, Bush still refuses to talk to them because he says Hamas is a terrorist group. Yet secretly in Iraq and elsewhere the US has been training and paying monthly salary to militias listed as terrorist groups."
----
Yes, Hamas, was democratically elected, but once elected they failed to play by democratic rules.
Even Obama recognizes what Prez. Bush and the International community have long held as appropriate for a democratic government for the Palestinians. As Obama said in his June 4, 2008 speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference:

"We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by past agreements."

By failing to abide by these basic principles Hamas has isolated itself with only the sea at its back. Not a very good place for a terrorist organization to find itself in.

Please keep up!

Deb Chatterjee:

Richard wrote:

"There is not a single monolithic entity as the 'Islamist'. There are many peace loving individuals, there are quite a few aggressive and terrorist minded individuals. If you bag those into one, you surely have them into one."

Yes there are. Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt), Jammat-i-Islam, Al-Qaeda, Taliban are Islamist in the sense they are close to the Salafist or Wahabist positions/interpretations of Islam. The Salafis and Wahabis are fundamentlist Islamist parties, even according to Khalid Abou El Fadl who teaches Islamic Jurisprudence at UCLA.

Read the famous book MILESTONES by Sayyid Qutb to know what these fundamentalist theocratic doctrines of Islam mean in real terms.

Anonymous:

Chatterjee

Dont you know in American politics no one will answer - "hypothetical questions or scenario"


Silly Wabbit Hypotheticals are for Kids like you

Posted on July 22, 2008 13:15

Deb Chatterjee:
To all those Obamacons on this blog:

Well, fellow bloggers, I have a question framed on a hypothetical scenario for your Dear Leader.

nacl:

AMviennaVA

You do some checking. Check out what would happen if we caught Osama bin Laden and 20 of his closest lieutenants tomorrow. Would that affect our national security? It would help our morale, but it would not make us safer. Because Al Qaeda is nowadays operating via autonomous units without any direct contract with Osama. Their financing is self generated or comes from Saudi Arabia, not from Osama. He is afraid to make a telephone call. No terror operation since 9/11 has been traced back to Osama. Not the one in London's subways or in the Madrid railroad station, etc.

Furthermore, check out this: None of the 9/11 attackers came from Afghanistan. None were Taliban. They were mainly Saudis.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the mastermind of 9/11 was a Kuwaiti and he was not in Afghanistan when the attack occurred.

Osama and his lieutenants were from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not from Afghanistan. Before making their base there they operated from the Sudan. Now the CIA thinks they are operating from Pakistan's badlands, but they might be in Yemen or Lebanon, Mauritania or the Philippines, and God knows where.

You can hmmmm all you want. It is lunatic for Obama now to decide America's military must concentrate on Afghanistan. We have no vital national security interests in Afghanistan. Killing every last Taliban would not enhance America's security.

We have an interest in a stable Pakistan because they have a nuclear arsenal. But that stability won't be secured via a US army chasing Taliban into Pakistan's badlands. In fact that may well destabilize Pakistan.

That a crowd in Iraq cheered Ahmadinedjad is a ridiculous non sequitur. Last year while visiting the UN he was cheered by crowds in New York, including at Colombia university.

In short Obama has forgotten that it was not Afghanistan or the Taliban who attacked us. He has forgotten, or never underestood where our vital interests lie. We have none in Afghanistan. Our interests lie in a friendly oil rich democratic Iraq whose example has the potential of transforming the oppressed Arab world.

Richard:

Deb Chatterjee:


There is not a single monolithic entity as the 'Islamist'. There are many peace loving individuals, there are quite a few aggressive and terrorist minded individuals. If you bag those into one, you surely have them into one.

You cannot conquer terrorist activities with a military approach, you can contain it for a while. They will lose if they lose their backing in the populace, their support environment. They lose if they cannot recruit for their thoughts anymore.

If you bag them into one, you are exactly pushing folks into their arms. That is the no-win situation.

Richard:

NACL:

"The truth is Iraq is vital to our power position in the M/E."

"And did Zakaria ask, what Iraq is a distraction from? What is more important than securing a democratic Iraq that is friendly to America and a challenge to the entire Arab world"

Pretty revealing. Our position in the ME, 'democratic Iraq that is friendly to America'

Why's that needed? We're not the masters of the world. Oh, yes, it's the oil. A pretty short sighted view, however Look back:

Maybe if the CIA hadn't overthrown Mossadegh years back we would not face an unfriendly fundamentalist Iran these days, like the Mullahs.

Afghanistan, to my view, is different. There we have a militant, fundamentalist Taliban to keep in check. 9/11 was emanating from Afghanistan/Taliban, right? Or was it Iraq? Wrong.


I think Mr. Zakaria is indeed right on.

AMviennaVA:

Hmmm ... 'nacl' wonders why Afghanistan rather than Iraq is important. As I recall, we were attacked from Afghanistan, not Iraq. Those who attacked us are hiding somewhere along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, about 1000 miles east of Iraq.

Last time I checked, Ahmadinedjad was cheered by the crowds in Iraq, whereas our politicians have to sneak in and out, unannounced.

So, to sum up: (1) we have strengthened Iraq's ties to Iran; (2) we forgot those who attacked us. Why change policy indeed.

nacl:

What a twisted, dishonest wiggler Fareed Zakaria turns out to be.

He describes Obama's foreign policy as "steely" Because Obama still insists, "Iraq is a distraction" and believes, "the sooner America can reduce its exposure there, the better."

The truth is Iraq is vital to our power position in the M/E. It is of supreme importance that the victory in our grasp, for which so much blood and treasure was expanded is not now hastily lost. This victory, incidentally, would not be available had Obama's not so "steely" counsel, not to attempt the Surge but to start withdrawing in January 2007, been followed.

It is also true that Obama is a championship flip flopper who brandishes whatever position serves him at any given time. One moment he is opposed to NAFTA, the next he lets the Canadians and Mexicans know he doesn't really mean it. One moment he wants a hard and fast withdrawal time table, the next, changing conditions on the ground would require adjustments. He tells the Jews, he supports a united Jerusalem; his next audience hears him support a shared Jerusalem. He was ready to meet with any leader, including the worst rogues, without preconditions, but now some prerequisites must first be met. For meeting McCain in Town Halls he is not steely enough.

And did Zakaria ask, what Iraq is a distraction from? What is more important than securing a democratic Iraq that is friendly to America and a challenge to the entire Arab world?

Afghanistan is what is important, according to Obama. That is where we should have committed our military from the first, and he still wants us to take that tack. The Soviets spent 9 years chasing the muhajidin with a 125,000 man army. They got a humiliating defeat and 20,000 dead Russians. But that is where the steely Obama wants us to invest our blood and treasure. For what purpose?

Zakaria says, "his view is certainly focused on America's core security interests and is recognizably realist."

What are our national security interests in Afghanistan? Even if we killed every last Taliban, how will that advance our national security? Osama bin Laden has moved from Afghanistan to the badlands of Pakistan and could base himself in a dozen other places. Al Qaeda operatives in any event work autonomously, independent of Osama who fears to make a telephone call.

Zakaria, with this editorial, has revealed a mush filled, mealy mouthed weasel. He is not worth reading.

Deb Chatterjee:

Ooops !

In my last post the line:

"In contrast the players of the film THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST did not kill Martin Scorcese, or Willem Dafoe or others. I have not known any such incidents.)"

should be replaced by:

"In contrast, the players of the film THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST including director Martin Scorcese, or Willem Dafoe or others, were NOT killed by Christians. I have not known any such incidents."

The error is regretted.

Additionally, continuing with the same thread, judgement from a US President on this hypothetical yet plausible scenario, is bound to have a Foreogn Policy impact. How the world views USA can be understood/gauged from this incident.

Deb Chatterjee:

To all those Obamacons on this blog:

Well, fellow bloggers, I have a question framed on a hypothetical scenario for your Dear Leader.

According to Fareed Zakaria, Senator Obama comes across level-headed and realist on Islamic extremists and Islam. Fareed implies that the Clash of Civilizations between West and Islam can be artfully avoided by Senator Obama and not Senator McCain (who has been labeled as a potential candidate in continuance as a "war president" by Fareed).

I contend that such a euphoria over Obama's candidacy is a hogwash and the candidate's convictions have not been vetted. We don't know how he flip-flops quickly. I believe that Senator McCain would be the best to uphold the "core values" enshrined in the US Constitution. I am of the opinion that Senator Obama would pander to populism to stave off any political inconveniences - even if that means "fleshing out" the rights and privileges of average "blue collar Joe Sixpack". (Of course I am assuming that the job of a US President would be to uphold the "core values" of the US Constitution. Perhaps I am wrong here ?)

To prove my point I am framing up a hypothetical scenario which is quite plausible and solicit your opinions on the same. It concerns Obama's stand on the First Amendment. (I know that a visible number of Americans in recent times may think that such a privilege to exercise offensive speech is unwise in a politically correct world, but like it or not such a trait distinguishes America from the rest of the World. France has (?) similar values, but I am not aware if it is in their Constitution. However, French are well known for secular, liberal attitudes and recent denial of French citizenship to Ms. Fazia shows such traits.)

We know the outrage over the Danish cartoons. We are all aware of the death-threats with Ayan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie and even Tasleema Nasreen on their "outrageous" (?) remarks on Islam. (This came from the "peace-loving" Muslim folks against the authors/artists/cartoonists.) In contrast the players of the film THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST did not kill Martin Scorcese, or Willem Dafoe or others. I have not known any such incidents.)

If someone did print such cartoons or had a scathing/very offensive article on Islam and Prophet Muhammad, how would Senator Obama react to the outrage if he became the next president ? Will he clamp down on those (right wing) "loonies" exercising their Constitutional rights to Free Speech, or, tell the agitating Muslims to shut up, or, worse still will he try to find a "middle path" (bend laws to pacify both sides) ? Fareed Zakaria calls him a "optimist", "realist" and that is not naive. So, how do you Obamafan bloggers, think Dear Leader react to such a call ?

gina carter:

Fareed I am so impressed with your column! What a breath of fresh reading!!!!! I am a strong supporter of Obama! I knew that Obama has a deeper understanding of world views and human race period! He is exactly what is needed to transcend America and the world!! A good leader always has the peoples best interest at heart! Not his Ego! Obama will most definately be that Leader! God help us all if Mccain is ever elected! I dont believe he has that deeper understanding that is needed! He clearly would lead by his Ego! That is what gets us into trouble always!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roism007:

Nicely done...you are starting to prove to me that there are still some journalist left in America and not the tabloid reports we are so used to seeing in press and on tv.

I think Obama's approach of looking at the world has to do with the fact he lived in more than one country during his younger days. If early education is the foundation for success later on in life, than I must say the impact of seeing the differences of First World Countries and Third World Countries has shaped his realistic approach that Obama projects in his opinions and statements.

On the other hand, an average American or so called "Blue Collar Workers" that forms the base of Republican party are only educated till High School that too because of Govt policy to educate citizens free and until recently have never left the pond they grew up in. How can we expect them to considered what is a "Foreign Policy"?

Gerhard:

It is the most intelligent comment, I read about Obama. But this doestn`t mean very much,since I read only German press only beforehand on this topic.
But German press guys missed the most important things, I guess.

AMviennaVA:

Deb Chatterjee posted "Maybe. But, do Christians practice those "awful" things today ?" Unfortunately, a bunch of self-styled 'Christians' started a war of choice (aggression actually) in Iraq (leave alone that they encouraged Israel to rain mayhem on Lebanon in 2006 ... the birthpangs of a new Middle East?). The Iraq fiasco has caused more than 1 million lives already and created 5 million refugees!

Stupidity and barbarism are not the exclusive property of Muslims as you must recognize.

abdi:

As I agree with you ,some of your opinion about Mr. Obama's foreign policy thougths. My comment is to get back the American credibility around the world they must elect or America elected Mr. Obama.

tdf:

uh...there already is a "league of democracies." it's called the Community of Democracies and is establishing its secretariat in Poland. I'm guessing the speechwriters on both sides, used to focusing on domestic issues, haven't bothered even to google the subject.

serena1313:

Fareed, I respect your opinion and do, more often than not, agree with you.


Perhaps McCain is an idealist, but he believes in using military force to accomplish "his" goals. On a regular basis McCain exaggerates threats against America. The clarion call for more war is the lynchpin of McCain's foreign policy. For him Iraq is all about never surrendering, but winning and achieving victory, not democracy. Presumably, McCain's exuberance might be better explained as a desire to command the largest military force at war. Meaning no disrespect, I wonder if McCain isn't still fighting the Viet Nam war?


Bush was never interested in bringing democracy to Iraq. Based on the events that have since unfolded, getting rid of Saddam, taking control of the oil and furthering corporate power drove Bush's juggernaut to use military force in Iraq. If Bush agreed to a timetable the energy conglomerates would be left without protection -- a job fulfilled by our military.


Bush is not spreading democracy establishing military tribunals, indefinite imprisonment, torture, extraordinary renditions, breaking international treaties, etc... he is spreading tyranny and acting like a dictator.


Furthermore Bush never once showed interest in the Iraqi people whatsoever. Before leaving Iraq, Bremer enacted 101 Orders into law that had nothing to do with setting up democratic institutions or protecting Iraqi businesses, but everything to do with protecting and furthering foreign interests and corporate power -- at the expense of the Iraqi people.


There is much more to democracy than casting a vote. Bush forced the Palestinians into holding early elections, after which he did not like the outcome. Despite Hamas being democratically elected, to this day, Bush still refuses to talk to them because he says Hamas is a terrorist group. Yet secretly in Iraq and elsewhere the US has been training and paying monthly salary to militias listed as terrorist groups.


Neither the Bush administration nor McCain have shown even a fraction of sensitivity to the suffering the US military forces brought to the Middle-East. This is no trivial matter and by ignoring it only makes matters worse.


It is not surprising the world disdains us for our hypocrisy and fears us for our stupidity.


Even though the battleground is not on US soil war is destroying our nation. We are the frog sitting in a pan of water about to boil.


Yet trapped in the 20th Century mind-set McCain is unwilling to budge from his militaristic approach to solving world problems. Because he is quick to anger makes him prone to over-react in terribly destructive ways. McCain [mistakenly] believes -- claims -- Islamic extremism is a threat to our very existence, but is blind to the fact that US military action in the Middle East is exacerbating the situation. To continue is insanity.


Obama's pragmatic and nuanced approach to worldly affairs is very much 21st Century. The fact he recognizes the nature of the problems in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world gives me confidence he will deal with situations in a measured and appropriate way.


While the US is mired in an occupation the world is changing rapidly. So we can either change along with it or continue to spin spin our wheels going nowhere fast while the world moves forward into the future leaving us behind.


Idealist or realist? More to the point: McCain and Obama offer two completely different foreign policies: respectively one more dangerous and less likely to succeed, the other promises change.


Robert:

Michael:

"Great column Fareed, you try to look at this situation in a fair and realistic way, which I believe Obama is also doing. Dwight writes that "Obama is a fool" He probably likes bush and cheney and his comment shows his ignorance and lack of writing skills.
This administration is full of intellectual pygmies and the sooner they are gone the better. Bush believes that Armageddon is just around the corner and that he has helped it come sooner, what an idiot to believe that we can have any effect on such spiritual matters.
Obama is by far the better candidate in this race, he's not perfect, no one is, but unlike bush he will learn as he goes.
bush and cheney should be tried for treason"


=============

I don't see where you have any room to criticize Dwight's writing. Whether or not you think he was correct he was at least clear and succinct, spelled everything correctly, and was consistent in his use of punctuation and lack of capital letters.

Your writing on the other hand rambles and jumps from one topic to the next, and your conclusions are no better supported than Dwight's. If you are going to quote someone with the intention of refuting them, then you need to focus on that rather than leaping to a conclusion that is not in evidence ("He probably likes bush and cheney...") and then going off randomly about this issue, which is off-topic by any definition of the term. You ended up looking like a fool in response to a drive by troll.


Deb Chatterjee:

Andrew wrote:

"As for your Quran quote, well, I can go thru the Old Testament and find many, many awful things that are said, yet I still am a believer. "

Maybe. But, do Christians practice those "awful" things today ? A large section the Muslim society is held hostage to fundamentalists/radical ideologies and you think Obama will liberate them through his "realist" policies ?

I don't smoke what you do.

Deb Chatterjee:

ZQLL wrote:

"If you want more softheaded diplomacy, by all means vote for that great "realist" Obama. He won't disappoint."

No digs on this one.

Voice of Reason:

Sure miss Fareed as host of Foreign Exchange!

Sadly, it is much easier to criticize the written word.

Those responding do so through the lens of their bias.

People seem to have strong biases.

As John Edwards exited, with my donation, I struggled to choose Obama or Clinton.

I felt scolded by Clinton, so I gravitated to Obama HOPING he would, at the very least, uphold the Constitution and provide some relief for "the little guys".

Perhaps it is an unavoidable glitch that causes presidential candidates to become mercurial.

I am left, as an average American, to view McCain as a cranky war-lover and Obama as a difficult-to-read Democrat.

Thanks Fareed.

zqll:

This is what Kissinger the realist had to say about W's foreign policy in 2005:
"Extraordinary advances of democracy have occurred in recent months: elections in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Palestine; local elections in Saudi Arabia; Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon; the opening up of the presidential election in Egypt; and upheavals against entrenched authoritarians in Kyrgyzstan. Rarely have conditions seemed so fluid and the environment so malleable. This welcome trend was partly triggered by President George W. Bush’s Middle East policy and accelerated by his second inaugural address, which elevated the progress of freedom in the world to the defining objective of American foreign policy.
The progress of democracy did not occur entirely under its own momentum. Circumstance was as important as design. Elections in Iraq and Afghanistan were made possible by American military victories over the Taliban and Saddam Hussein; the Ukrainian election grew out of the collapse of Soviet and Russian power in Eastern Europe; the Lebanese upheaval reflected the isolation of Syria after the Soviet collapse; and the Palestinian elections were made possible by the death of Yasser Arafat and the defeat of the second Intifada."
-----
If you want to see realist policies look back at the pre-Reagan era: MAD, Containment, peaceful coexistence, appeasement Eastern Europe under Soviet domination, threat of nuclear holocaust, etc.
Liberals, Demos and Western Europeans were very happy with their "peaceful coexistence" bought with "realistic" policies, and peace bought on the back of others. Peace at any price. Just as long as that peace was paid for by others.
As for good and evil which Obama does not recognize, then he will not recognize problems with people like Kim Jong Il, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, hitler, Ahmadinejad, Islamic fundamentalists, etc.

If you want more softheaded diplomacy, by all means vote for that great "realist" Obama. He won't disappoint.

Deb Chatterjee:

Andrew wrote:

"All your trying to do is make people confuse the two, when simply put, neither McCain nor Obama will ease the pressure on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Sorry Andrew, you are clueless about McCain. McCain knows what he doesn't know, and hence is keeps quiet. Even Fareed Zakaria, the cheerleader for Obama, doesn't disagree with McCain's credentials. Has McCain flipped and flopped ? Yes. But, is McCain wrong on his views on war on terror ? NO. I am quite unsure and in fact very skeptical if Obama would really advocate hot pursuit of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistan's borders if that need legitimately arises. I am indeed extremely skeptical, and given his past flips/flops I have an axe to grind.

"As for Islam extremism, Obama has a very good point. It's the exact strategy used by Petraeus in the surge."

Well, David Petraeus did not talk to Senator Obama prior to asking the increase in troop levels. So, obliquely crediting Obama on this sounds hypocritical to me.

However on the global scenario of Islamic extremism Obama is surely clueless (or else is a hypocrite). Again the flip flop. To snoop on homegrown sleeper cells, Bush govt. introduced the wiretapping legislation, which Obama initially opposed. He, however, voted for it this time when it was introduced. Bush played it smart on this score. He probably knew that Obama is a bleeding-heart leftist Democrat, but is also pragmatic. Hence in an election year, Obama would not risk voting against the wiretapping legislation - as he might come out as a "softie". And, that's exactly what happened. Isn't it ? Obama doesn't appreciate that snooping (regardless of how unpleasant it maybe) on terrorists talking to each other to blow up USA is a dire necessity. However he is also pragmatic, and hence doesn't mind the flip-flops he's done. More from him will come thru' as we near November 4, 2008.

Urban wrote:

"Have you heard the expression: more cathlic than the Catholics? tis a symptom of new converts!
"

Yes, I did. I also know born in the USA was John Walker Lindh and Adam Gadhan.

Jane:

Reply to ZZIM

We all know when someone is being derogatory or speaking in such terms. You were not being derogatory, you only spoke of which you heard, using the same exact terms. We all know what red necks, coons, stump-jumpers, all of those derogatory and inappropriate names.

If you don’t want any one to get het up, do not speak in such terms.

Now as to my comment on more leases, of course no more needs to be purchased. Did you not read the sentences that followed? telling of all the leases already owned and not being used. This country is a gold mine of oil and gas of which leases they already own. What I implied was the need was to drill on the leased property they already have before wanting to buy up everything they can get their hands on and then a monopoly will again be had only this time by the speculators instead of foreign countries.

We would then be under the gun again, only this time to the ones who has tied up everything in a tight noose around our own people, speculators though they are. The have’s always wants more, the have not’s only want to make a living a home and to be a bit comfortable unto themselves and their families. We the have not’s, usually take it for granted that we can earn what we need to live comfortably and be able to have a family and raise and be able to school them with out continually worrying if this can be done anymore because of the have’s who continually want more are never happy until they have made all beneath them squirm even more than they are already.

Joseph:

Obama's popularity outside the USA would make him President of Germany or France if he wanted it. As for McCain, we can just say "ho-hum," just what new ideas can we expect to find with this one? At least Obama is willing to talk to other people and other countries, McCain only if they completely agree with us (the USA) first. How is this ever going to work?

Behind McCain you will find the neocons. Remember, the guys who gave us Iraq? And, let's not forget that Iraq is a salvage job now. Talk of the "surge working," is very likely just more smokescreen for bigger fireworks on the way. And, if McCain gets into the Presidential office and he quickly turns the guns on Iran, you can bet we will see bigger fireworks indeed. You have to vote for the guy with the best judgment and best chances of rectifying things. However, if you think Bush did a great job, vote for McCain. After all, it will be McCain who takes a page out of the GW Bush playbook. You know, the part where it was a "slam-dunk" that Iraq had WMD's. Next time, it will be a McCain who tells us it is a "slam-dunk" that Iran has nukes, and we all know what comes next!

Mark:

Interesting column except for one observation. The realists are the pessimists. The optimists are the ones who dont feel the world must wait for change. MM

Andrew:

Deb Chatterjee:

First of all, to use an Obama flip-flop on campaign finance to somehow skew his foreign policy is pretty absurd. Then your comparing a policy of diplomacy with a sovereign state (Iran) with that of a terrorist group no American wants to negotiate with, period (Al-Qaeda). All your trying to do is make people confuse the two, when simply put, neither McCain nor Obama will ease the pressure on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Also, yes, Truman never faced al-qaeda, but we can learn from people of the past. President Lincoln never came up against a nuclear state, and President Jefferson never faced a fascist ideology, yet we continue to learn lessons from them. Most diplomacy is still done on the state level, even against terrorism, and it's important to learn from the past. You can go ahead and ignore the sovereign states, and see just how much they help you.

As for Islam extremism, Obama has a very good point. It's the exact strategy used by Petraeus in the surge. Rivalries in Iraq brought the violence up, and then he used them to bring them down. He got in contact with local leaders (most notably in Anbar province), promised them help and protection of their rights, and in return, these groups lost interest in Al-Qaeda and kicked them out of town. You sound like you might have read the Quran and maybe (MAYBE) know something about Middle East history, so you should know the historical hatred between Persians and Arabs, Syrians and Lebanese, Kurds and everyone else, Sunnis and Shiites, and the list goes on. Al-Qaeda only represents one form (Extreme Saudi Wahabbism), yet somehow people believe Shiites are going to join their cause (they have their own groups, notably Hezbollah). The whole point is that if you treat them all the same, you WILL unite them under one banner. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you learn to sit down with each seperately and talk, however, then you can marginalize the really bad guys like Al-Qaeda.

As for your Quran quote, well, I can go thru the Old Testament and find many, many awful things that are said, yet I still am a believer. Many christians believe that unless people are baptized, they're going to hell, which is not a very nice thing to say, yet we (including me) still see the good in Christianity. I say you open your eyes, look past the faults, and see what Muslims has helped to give us in the past (Astronomy, Algebra, saving the works of Aristotle) and what contribution it can make in the future as well.

urban:

Deb,

Have you heard the expression: more cathlic than the Catholics? tis a symptom of new converts!

Deb, citizenship means more than cheering the leaders. It seems you are doing just that!!

Napoleon1:

First, a correction. Senator Obama was critical of Bush's decision to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Here are the relevant statements of Obama:

"In the absence of some sense of progress, in the absence of some sense from the Dalai Lama that there was progress, I would not have gone," the presidential candidate told reporters at a news conference.
....
Obama said he "would liked to have seen some more aggressive efforts to encourage progress and talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.

"It strikes me that although some meetings have been taking place, that we were not aggressive in encouraging the Chinese government to make serious concessions there," he said.
(Associated Press, July 7, 2008 at http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jiBrIyL7WJ1mb_HZz3phioJvNatgD91P9VUG0 ).

Second, contrary to your analysis, so far Obama's comments and positions sound more like Zbigniew Brzezinsky, particularly in Brzezinsky's recent book "Second Chance" and not like either Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft.

Viet Nam Vet:

To those who believe the surge/escalation is working;

It works as long as the military pays Iraqi's $300/month not to fight.

New headline today: The troops are worried the house of cards will fold as soon as they are moved to Afghanistan.

But Hey, 4439 coalition troops killed and 30K+ wounded is but a cheap price to pay, as long as it's not a member of your family or a friend.

ZZim:

Bite me, Jimmy.

Actually, it's nice to be recognized for effectiveness, even if it's intended in a snotty and underhanded way.

Many years ago I came off a football field feeling defeated and angry. I was a defensive lineman and had had a great first half (2 sacks, a fumble and lots of tackles) and then spent the entire second half of the game getting nowhere near the guy with the ball. The coach told me to cheer up, they were targeting me specifically because I had been so effective in the fiorst half. Which freed up my teammates to make tackles and sacks, etc. So I felt better.

Anyway, thanks for the compliment. I do this for free because I can't stand idiocy and enjoy confronting it head on. Keeps me busy, lol.

James Stern:

ZZim

We, AIPAC, appreciate your work on these boards. Oops, I forgot that we were paying you to do this. Good job anyway.

Jason Carlton:

Carl:
"You are kidding right?"

NOPE. Mr. Carl Rove, you gotta be kidding yourself.

"An opinion article in NEWSWEEK - of ALL places - and written by FAREED ZAKARIA - of ALL people?"

MR. Rove, I assume your opinion counts more than Fareed’s! Please.

"Okay, I am going to be polite here..."

Mr. Rove, now you are the one kidding! Mr. Rove being “polite”, please! Do you mean that you can’t master anything meaningful to say.

"You do realize in the in the whole world, Newsweek Magazine and Fareed Zakaria are "in the tank" for Barack Obama more than anyone else, right? Even more than Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, and Brian Williams, right?"

Come on now, Carl. You sound paranoid! The whole country is conspiring against neo-cons? Please resume taking your medications…

"You may have well as simply posted a press release from the Obama campaign."

Mr. Architect, the house you have built is crumpling and it’s because of bad architectural blueprint! The train has left the station and America is praising for a better future. Bye bye, Carl.

Deb Chatterjee:

Urban wrote:

"Remember what Obama suggested: he would bomb the Qada hide out in East Pakistan without asking Pakistani government."

Yeah ??? Are you willing to bet your wager on that flip-flopper from Illinois - land of Abraham Lincoln ?

How sure are you about Obama on this ?

Asim wrote:

"Jihad is not terrorism, aggression or violence-it is fighting in self-defence."

That's from an educated, westernized Muslim like your nobleself. How do you (and your edeucated, westernzied likes) convince otherwise your fellow co-religionists like Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri and similar ones ?

JAC:

Dwight posted July 21, 2008 8:09 AM
"in other words, obama is a fool..."

Maybe someone could read the article to you since your reading and comprehension skills are low.

ZZim:

Hi Urban:

Reply to: “Obama suggested: he would bomb the Qada hide out in East Pakistan without asking Pakistani government. GW people pooh poohed that idea, just to have them do that five weeks or so after Obama suggested it as an option.”

Interesting that you bring this up.

We’ve been bombing Al Qaeda hide-outs in Pakistan without getting permission to do so for years. We get away with it because the Pakistani government wants them bombed too, but can’t admit it publicly due to Pakistani domestic politics. So, ever hear the expression that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission? That’s what we do. We drop a bomb, blow up some bad guys, the Pakistan government squawks and protests publicly while privately telling us “nice shot”.

Obama’s announcement threatens this mutually beneficial charade. On the face of it, it’s a dumb thing to do, but it’s actually quite clever. As a candidate, he doesn’t face any repercussions from irresponsible comments. The President, on the other hand, has to play along with the charade and pretend we don’t bomb Pakistan. So, Obama’s a smart guy, he knows all this. So he says “bomb Pakistan” knowing with certitude that the President will say “no way” and then go do exactly that. Then Obama gets to claim that it was his idea.

People who are easily convinced will say, “Hey look, Obama said “jump” and Bush jumped! Obama has vision and he’s gutsy, too! Yay Obama!”

Alance:
The issue is not the Iranian intentions-and so far they are intentions-the issue is israle's formidabe nuclear arseanl which is sacrring all states in the region including Iran to scramble for a defensive nuclear weapon;the US invasion accelearted Iran's concern.

If an apartheid racist miltaristic jewsih theocrcay with the longest occupation in modern history can have a nuclear weapon-why can not Iran or any other Arab state have a nuclear weapon.

US,UK,Germany and France have not said a single word about an actual existing israeli nucelar arsenal-not a single world especially France which built the israeli nuclear projetc in 1950/1960,s. Its nuclear fuel and development was stolen and sumggled by jews-similar to Jonathan Pollard the spy.

urban:

ZZim:

I can't believe your positive assumptions re Bush!!

Obama has been telling GW to use the saw to cut the bolt; GW insisted on using steel wool to cut the bolt, ie, where to fight Qada.
Remember what Obama suggested: he would bomb the Qada hide out in East Pakistan without asking Pakistani government. GW people pooh poohed that idea, just to have them do that five weeks or so after Obama suggested it as an option.

Obama has vision; he is gutsy too.

Deon:

It's interesting that you classify Obama as an Optimistic Realist and McCain as a Pessimistic Idealist. I think traditionally, the Realist desire for stability has been seen as rooted in a dire view of world politics that saw the potential for violence and upheaval around the globe. Similarly, idealistic foreign policies have generally been rooted in a faith in democratic and economic progress - the Bush administration, for example, assumed that democracy would flow naturally from our intervention in Iraq.

I think your characterizations of Obama and McCain are plausible, and are examples of how a particular disposition doesn't necessarily lead to a fixed foreign policy approach. Rather than avoiding large scale interventions solely out of a classically realist aversion to instability, an "Optimistic Realist" patiently awaits global convergence toward democratic norms.

Michael:

"Yup. Successful counter-insurgencies end with a whimper, not a bang. They sorta fade from sight. Drop off the front pages of the newspapers. Precisely like what we’ve experienced with Iraq in the past 6 months or so. It’ll still be there in the background, but not as much as it was when the insurgency was in full swing. Inattentive people will probably not be aware that the war is substantially over."

Just like the insurgency in Vietnam was going out with a wimper from 1968 - 1973. This is the problem, you are seeing what you want to see, not what is there; we won't really know the truth until years from now. It could be success, or it could be the insurgents withdrawing while we are on the offense, waiting to fight another day after we withdraw.

"Not true. It means that - because it takes 4 months to tally the quarter’s economic data - a recession can start without you being specifically aware of it. However, it also means that you CAN be certain when you are NOT in a recession."

No, you can be certain we weren't in a recession last quarter. If the economy declines this quarter, we are still technically not in a recession, but if it declines next quarter also, we will officially have been in a recession since the beginning of this quarter. But again, this is a label that is meaningless to the average person. It's not economic pessimism if the majority of average folks are suffering due to higher prices, stagnant wages, and increased joblessness just because the to pcompanies are doing well enough to offset those economic losses. This is the problem with neo-liberal economists- a pareto efficiency may look good on paper, but it doesn't work in real life.

"Apparently enough of us have enough willpower for us to have come this far. Plenty of Americans lack willpower though, and some of them vote. So they may have enough numbers to vote Obama into office. We’ll see."

It's not about willpower, it's about miltiary and economic reality. We don't have the manpower to sustain this ops tempo, and we don't have the money to wage it if we did without a drastic restructuring of our economic system- major cuts and major tax hikes. You want this war to keep going, be willing to pay for it in both blood and treasure. The American people said before the war in multiple polls that they didn't think Iraq was worth 1000+ American lives or $1 billion, we were promised it would be well under that in both counts. It's not about americans losing the will to fight after committing forces, it's about Americans being misled on the committment required and saying enough is enough in a manner that allows our allies the best opportunity for success.

Deb Chatterjee:be careful not take Quarnic verses out of context.

Quran 4:95 compares two kinds of believers in case the Muslim Ummah is invaded or aggressed on:those who readily respond as true patriots and defenders of their homeland and faith AND those who either drag themselves reluctantly to the cause or set home altogther while others make the scarifices on their behalf;and those who sacrifice their lives and wealth and those who do not.

Now the context is critical:this verse was revealed in the run up for the Tabuk campaign-350 miles north west of Arabia-as the Byzantines were amassing troops to invade Madeina in 629AD-and when the Prophet-pbuh-called for the smaller Jihad which is miliatry confrontation, most Muslims responded volunteering their wealth and lives while some were reulctant to respond at all.

It was in the punishing heat of an Arabian summer and when the coffors of the nascent Muslim community were empty and the trip to Tabuk was 700 miles two ways and leading from the front and by example the Prophet-pbuh-lead the campaign to fend off the Byzantine troops-which had already disbanded by the time the 30,000 Mulsim troops arrived there.

This verse can not be taken out of context by different groups of Muslims:the meaning is clear-when the Muslim homeland or faith are threatened all Muslims are obligated to respond to the call to dfened it by their lives ad wealth each according to his means and abilities.

Jihad is not terrorism, aggression or violence-it is fighting in self-defence.

REALIST? Based on what historical evidence again?

OBAMA WILL HAVE DIFFICULTY MEETING EXPECTATIONS, INCLUDING HIS OWN ---

Obama’s impossible road ahead:


http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2008/07/why-obama-will-win-but-cant-deliver.html

ZZim:

Urban, in regard to your revisionist assertion that:

“Bush has been consistent in first rejecting what Obama calls for then doing the same thing later. Look at how Bush policy toward Iran was and IS now. His followers are sitting at the table with representatives of the Axis of Evil.”

This is sort of annoying. This statement implicitly confers way more importance on Obama than he is entitled to. It implies that Obama told Bush he ought to do a certain thing, that Bush heard his advice, and rejected it. Obama was just one of a number of Democratic politicians repeating the Party line that Bush needed to stop standing up to the Iranians and start sitting down with them. Bush said he didn’t think the time was ripe for talks. This is very different thing. It’s not a rejection of the “sitting at the table” tool at all.

Imagine you were a carpenter and 1,000 people were in the room telling you how to do your job. Imagine also that 290 of them were chanting “use the brush, use the brush”. So you say “I can’t it’s not time, I haven’t even sawed the wood yet.” An hour of hard work later - that’s you the carpenter working, the 290 of onlookers who want you to do it their way keep chanting – you finish measuring and sawing and planning and sanding and hammering and you pick up your paintbrush. Then a guy at the back of the crowd shouts “See?!? – Now he’s doing what Obama said to do!” And you (the carpenter, remember) lean over your project and think to yourself “Who? Oh yeah, one of the chanters”.

It’s sort of like that.

Frankly, I think you give Obama more credit than he deserves. Isn't he just aping the Bill Clinton School of Foreign Policy? There is no particular genius here, although in juxtaposition to the current White House occupant, Alfred E. Neuman would look like a genius. No, I think what we have here is "everything old is new again." Or to be even more cynical: "every new broom sweeps clean."

Halli Casser-Jayne
http://www.thecjpoliticalreport.com

Joseph:

It's McCain who wants to kick Russia out of the G-8 and it's McCain who wants to invade Iran. It seems McCain has been very busy pandering to the Republican hard right and the neocons, but aren't they the very same people who got us in this mess to begin with? Iraq was a mistake, so to talk about the surge "fixing things" overlooks the fact that this is water over the dam. And, "fixing" it, if it can be done, is going to still be a long and hard struggle. So, who do we want at the helm and with his finger "on the button?" Do we want "nuke em" McCain, our Barry Goldwater candidate, or Obama, our JFK candidate. The choice is ours.

Frank S:

Zakaria has a point, but his analysis is flawed. "Realism" in foreign policy for both parties in the 50s through 70s was entirely a matter of cold war gamesmanship. We didn't give a fig about who was running a country or how the people were being treated as long as the country was on our side and not the Communists'. To the extent we did things for the people of other countries it was transparently to win them away from the Communist camp. In a great many cases, we deliberately turned a blind eye to the well-being of populations as long as the government of a country was serving the U.S.'s strategic interests. While many liberal Democrats such as myself were yelling about human rights and dictatorships, the Democratic Party was little different from the Republicans on this -- just witness the invasions of Cuba and the Dominican Republic (under Kennedy and Johnson), Jimmy Carter's embrace of the Shah and Somoza before they were both tossed out, and most notably, of course, the escalation of the Vietnam War. "Realism" in those days simply meant that the only interest the U.S. had in other countries was whether they were reliably in our camp and reasonably stable politically.

The cold war paradigm is gone and with it went the U.S.'s interest in large parts of the world, which has been a mixed blessing for those countries. But that interest is coming back as a result of the globalization of the economy, which is a very different engine for foreign policy than the cold war was, and Obama recognizes that, while McCain and many Republicans do not. "Realism" in foreign policy today doesn't and can't mean the same thing it meant during the cold war. Nor do I think Obama's "realism" is the same. His "realism" is based on the notion the U.S. is part of a complex global economy and we may need to deal with leaders that we don't like very much in the short term with the hope that improvements in economic conditions and interaction with the rest of the world will ultimately lead to political change, but with the understanding that this probably won't happen overnight. Thus, how the populations of other countries are doing -- politically, economically, etc. -- actually matters in Obama's version of realism, while it did not matter in the cold war version. This is a fundamental difference that I think separates Obama from the latter-day "realists."

As far as McCain's views -- can you spell "Neanderthal"?

ZZim:

Hey Carl! You totally ROCK dude!

Ergo Sum, consider yourself PWNED!

urban:


Whatawonder....
food, shelter, jobs (security) are basic needs for any human being. Do not give credit to the Nazis for these great and true ideas....unless you are a closet fascist.

urban:

Ergo sum,....
Bush has been consistent in first rejecting what Obama calls for then doing the same thing later. Look at how Bush policy toward Iran was and IS now. His followers are sitting at the table with representatives of the Axis of Evil.
McCain is still singing: bomb, bomb, bomb Iran......Seems McCain is still napping.

Good article Mr. Fareed.

WhatAWonderfulWorld:

That's what Hitler preached...feed them, house them, clothe them, give them jobs and they will do what ever you want, be it democracy or facism. Since many in the middle east supported Hitler's ideas I suppose some of them still do.

ZZim:

“"By that definition, you don't know when you've had a recession until it's over, so you're technically never in a recession.”

Not true. It means that - because it takes 4 months to tally the quarter’s economic data - a recession can start without you being specifically aware of it. However, it also means that you CAN be certain when you are NOT in a recession.

“The macro economy is based on GDP, etc., but those numbers mean very little to the average person in the street. A recession to them has a much different definition, and like pornography they know it when they see it, and they do.”

You’re mistaking “consumer pessimism” for “recession”.

“there's no victory day for winning counterinsurgency”

Yup. Successful counter-insurgencies end with a whimper, not a bang. They sorta fade from sight. Drop off the front pages of the newspapers. Precisely like what we’ve experienced with Iraq in the past 6 months or so. It’ll still be there in the background, but not as much as it was when the insurgency was in full swing. Inattentive people will probably not be aware that the war is substantially over.

“It's an evolutionary process, not a finite struggle, and one we lacked the will for going in, and cannot sustain at this time.”

Apparently enough of us have enough willpower for us to have come this far. Plenty of Americans lack willpower though, and some of them vote. So they may have enough numbers to vote Obama into office. We’ll see.

B.M.:

GBENGA,

Of course Mr Zakaria doesn't mention the surge. Doing so would only prove that his main point -that Obama is a "foreign policy realist"- is complete nonsense.

Deb Chatterjee:

Well, this blogpiece from Fareed Zakaria is laced with contradictions, if the reader can spot them. Fareed has tried to cover up for Obama's flip-flops by downplaying this trait of the Senator from Illinois.

For example, Obama's on record regarding Islamic extremism stating that Pakistan and Afghanistan are two major hotspots and need to get the attention of his and present administration. Well, I agree on this. What makes me very edgy is the tractable history of the Senator's flip-flops on many issues, starting with taking money from private sources. What if Obama came to power and then "ground realities" (read 'pragmatism') did convince him to engage in official verbosity (read 'diplomacy') rather than taking unilateral military action, crossing Pakistan's borders, in the NWFP and SWAT regions there ? What would happen then ? Well, that diplomacy would give the militants (Al-Qaeeda and Talibans) to regroup and strategize another blast/bloodbath/brutal beheadings, while US and Pakistan engage in diplomacy. Fareed suppossedly praises Obama for the Senator's benovolent and egalitarian worldview. Harry Truman did not face Taliban and Al-Qaeda groupies, or had the fear of home grown sleeper cells motivated and inspired by radical Islam. I just don't know how Turman would have reacted to the threat of such extremism. Fareed, do you have any clue on this ?

This is unlike US-Soviet Union situation during the Cold War. There were two specific and identifiable nation states at that time. Not now. The loosely affiliated militants are only inspired by Islamic ideology of suicide bombing and Osama bin Laden's rhetoric to create carnage against the West.

Let's see what Fareed has famously penned here (regarding Barak Obama's Islamview and vis-a-vis War on Terror which also Obama recognizes as a major global threat):

"When speaking to me about Islamic extremism, for example, he repeatedly emphasized the diversity within the Islamic world, speaking of Arabs, Persians, Africans, Southeast Asians, Shiites and Sunnis, all of whom have their own interests and agendas."

Yes Muslims of Uzbekistan and Bangladesh are very culturally different. So, Keith Ellison (D-MN) a Muslim Congressman is different from Louis Farakkhan (Nation of Islam). So, Salman Rushdie is at large variance with Maulana Abul ala Maudoodi and Sayyid Qutb. However all these diversities within the fabric of the Islamic societies (ummah), does converge on the Quran. That's the source of spirituality for emancipated Sufis and the fundamentalist Salafists and Wahabis (Osama bin Laden belongs to the latter). The question is that is it the onus of the non-Muslim world to simply show respect to the diversities within the Muslim world, and only be reactive to the clear and present danger of Islamic extremism ? For example, the Quran that is read by liberals and fundamentalists, has this verse which has been reported to motivate Muslims to "fight in Allah's cause", and Muslim suicide bombers and 9/11, 7/7 perpetrators have been claimed to be inspired by it. This reads as follows:

YUSUFALI: "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,"-[Quran(004:095)]

(link http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/004.qmt.html)

A Muslim is equally likely to interpret this (literally) as a fight against un-Islamic laws and societies and act accordingly, as one who would just interpret that such was only in times of Prophet Muhammad when he was establishing Islamic societies 1400 years ago. What preventions/protections can non-Muslim countries take against the fundamentalists ? How do we identify who is a fundamentalist/radical Muslim and one who is not ? Have we developed a litmus test that would unambiguously identify such persons ? The answer is NO.

The difficulty is that the implications from Obama's rhetoric that "..not all Muslims are bad" is a pleasant verbiage. It shows the candidate's cluelessness and a non-strategy against fighting radical Islam which has threatened to destroy USA in particular. Germany, UK, France, Denmark and parts of Europe are under the threat from radical Islam and have sought to engage in "diplomacy" rather than confrontation. So, what Fareed anticipates about Obama is that he would only react if a cataclysmic situation like 9/11 had happened. Then maybe Obama would take time to exactly identify sources and then get with it. Bill Clinton, self-inspired by his defeatist ideology against Islam, lobbed some cruise missiles in Khost on Afghan-Pakistan border to divert public attention from Monica Lewinsky. It was a clueless, senseless act. Will Obama do something similar too, confounded by the diversity within Islamic societies ?

Carl:

ERGO SUM wrote the following:

l. McCain is against troop withdrawal plan, Obama is for it. Bush agrees in principle with Obama.

2. McCain is against talks with Iran. Obama wants to talk. Bush agrees in principle with Obama.

3. McCain wants no more troops, Obama wants more troops in Afghanistan. Bush agrees with Obama.

Looks like Obama's realistic assessment has even convinced Bush, but not McCain.

-----------------------------------------------

Now allow me to tell you the truth:

1. McCain is for withdrawing troops from Iraq in a responsible manner, as the situation on the ground dictates, not randomly pulling our forces out based on some artificial, arbitrary timeline based purely on partisan politics. This is line with the desires of President Bush, Nouri al-Maliki, and General Petraeus- NOT Barack Obama - who falsely claimed this weekend that his plan was "endorsed" by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who denounced that claim when he heard it. Had we followed Obama's desires there never even would have been a Surge, we'd already be out of Iraq, Iraq would have been plunged into a civil war, Al Qaeda and Iran would be fighting in Iraq for power over the region, the Iraqi People would be getting slaughtered, and the U.S. would be seen as weak, ineffective, and defeated as a result. All the sacrifices made in Iraq would have been for nothing.

2. Neither McCain nor Bush are against talks with Iran. What they are against is the most naive idea of having direct, unilateral talks on a Presidential level, without preconditions, believing that somehow they will produce any positive results. Obama, on the other hand, is on the record saying he will to talk to any one, any where, and expects nothing in return. Just what is that supposed to accomplish?

3. McCain has NEVER stated that he does not want more troops in Afghanistan! As in Iraq, he has stated that it is a matter of the situation on the ground and the desires of the Commanders on the ground. Now that Iraq has become a success (in spite of people like Barack Obama) and the central front in the War on Terrorism is now shifting back to Afghanistan, so are we now able to shift troops into Afghanistan if that is what is requested by the Commanders there.

Please, stop spreading lies, mistruths, propaganda, and sound bites from the Obama campaign.

Thank you.

Michael:

"Reply: Dude, everything is financed partly through deficit spending as long as part of the budget is deficit. If the budget deficit is 10%, then everything is financed 10% through deficit spending. In economics the word is “fungible”. Look it up.

A recession is a specific economics term defined as 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth. The economy grew last quarter. Therefore we are not in a recession. The grass is green. The sky is blue. Water flows downhill. We are not in a recession."

Yes...and by that definition, you don't know when you've had a recession until it's over, so you're technically never in a recession. The macro economy is based on GDP, etc., but those numbers mean very little to the average person in the street. A recession to them has a much different definition, and like pornography they know it when they see it, and they do.

True, all spending when a deficit exists can be attributed to deficit spending, but in a wartime situation governments cut discretionary spending and increase taxation (or at least DO NOT cut them) to place the economy on a wartime footing so as to minimize the deficit. Instead, our deficits have exploded, due largely to the war in Iraq, and when addded to our existing debt has severely undermined confidence in the US dollar.

"Reply: Yes, the Syrian Army left Lebanon. It was on the news. There were pictures.

When was the last Libyan-sponsored terrorist act? I can’t even remember. Must have been before the Clinton administration. The Libyans also gave up their nuclear ambitions. About the same time we captured Saddam. Probably not a co-incidence."

Definately a coincidence, since it had been in the works since the mid-1990s and finalized well before the Iraq war. At the same time, key Libyan leaders, to include Qadafi's son, have close working relationships with al Qa'ida (while a numer of Libyans vie for control of the network in opposition to the al Zawahiri wing). Qadafi is a skilled politician who knows how to play the game and work all sides in the name of retaining power, and will do what is necessary when necessary.

Why did the Syrian Army leave? It wasn't a necessity anymore, they can do the job more effectively with covert operatives than an open military occupation (Hizballah now has veto power over the Lebanese gov't, BTW, that is in the news too).

"A good example would be Zimbabwe. Would invading Zimbabwe and deposing Mugabe be a huge step toward the common good and the Rights of Man? Absolutely. Is it a good idea? No."

Same for Saddam Hussein...

"Reply: So … you support an American troop presence in Iraq for the next 10 years? Might take that long. More like 15 or 20 I think. Most insurgencies take about 20-25 years to die out."

It would take that long, but it is neither sustainable nor desireable, and depending on how it is executed it might be counterproductive. Our military is weakened as a deterrent force being bogged down there, we continue to expend too many resources, and we lose too much diplomatic clout, all while other adversaries and potential future adversaries gain strength (al Qa'ida, Iran, China, Russia to name a few). Iraq would be the ultimate pyrric victory, with so little to tangibly declare victory on (there's no victory day for winning counterinsurgency wars, and no real victor other than the host country and its peoples). Like has been said, McCain talks about "victory" and says that with the surge we're "winning," but this isn't a football game, there's never a time when you're truly sure it's over, and can never really declare victory because you're never sure exactly what it looks like. It's an evolutionary process, not a finite struggle, and one we lacked the will for going in, and cannot sustain at this time. We can just give the Iraqis the support they want and get out, it's the last best option and has been since even before the surge.

arun:

Zakaria's highlight of McCain's proposal to establish "a league of democracies" and kick Russia and exclude China from the G8 is important and should become a larger point of contention between the two candidates. Not only is McCain's proposals reckless it will severely diminish US standing in the world and create the potential for a China/Russia/Iran axis as counterweight to that of the United States and Europe. Obama is in fact as Zakaria rightly points out the realist. Any one who still endorses W Bush's policies in the middle east is dangerously misguided, a McCain administration has the potential to not only continue Bush's failed foreign policy but exacerbate US geopolitical interests.

Carl:

You are kidding right?

An opinion article in NEWSWEEK - of ALL places - and written by FAREED ZAKARIA - of ALL people?

Okay, I am going to be polite here...

You do realize in the in the whole world, Newsweek Magazine and Fareed Zakaria are "in the tank" for Barack Obama more than anyone else, right? Even more than Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, and Brian Williams, right?

You may have well as simply posted a press release from the Obama campaign.

farkdawg:

Actual analysis of actual political issues...?

What has become of our news media? Where is this Zakaria from? He must be from another country where missing white girls and celebrity divorces don't fill up our news coverage.

F. Zakaria - if you would go through each discernible policy and provide some analysis of each position you could then post them and update them and this would be a resource we could all access. Thank you.

Kelly Burnett:

The US, should we continue our open ended warfare,is on a path to bankruptcy, we forced the Soviet Union to collapse under the weight of burdening debt associated with their war in Afganistan. If the same Republican policies are continued, it will not be long before our economy can borrow no more and we will be financial bankrupt! This country is a financial mess and will only get worse with the same idealogical policies.

Ergo Sum:

l. McCain is against troop withdrawal plan, Obama is for it. Bush agrees in principle with Obama.

2. McCain is against talks with Iran. Obama wants to talk. Bush agrees in principle with Obama.

3. McCain wants no more troops, Obama wants more troops in Afganistan. Bush agrees with Obama.

Looks like Obama's realistic assessment has even convinced Bush, but not McCain.

Charles Baker Harris:

Calling someone who has set an arbitrary and easily-discredited timetable for withdrawal a "realist" is the height of absurdity.

Jason Carlton:

I could not agree with Fareed more. If you peel off all the silly labels attached to each candidate, you clearly see that McCain and Bush are cut from the same cloth. Granted McCain had disagreements with GW, but those disagreements were more of a personal style, if you will, and not fundamental. Obama on the hand is right on Fareed’s observation as Realist and from historical stand point, Conservative. Furthermore, McCain these days appears to be more Bush than Bush himself.

ZZim:

Hi Jane:

“We all heard Obama say the same thing on TV and Fareed was no where around.”

Maybe he was in the audience. :)

“And believe you me, even if they do not want to admit it, the rednecks do cling to their guns and religion. He did get that right.”

My point was that he said it in a derogatory manner. As though guns and religion were bad. Something people should not rely on. By the way, “cling to” in this context was intended to be derogatory, he could easily have said “rely on” or “care about” or “take comfort in”. And he attributed the reasons people rely on their guns and religion to racism & xenophobia – another derogatory sentiment.

By the way, “redneck” is considered by many people to be a derogatory term and evidence that the speaker is prejudiced against a certain segment of the population. Obama carefully didn’t use that word, he said “some people”. He’s smarter that. He may even disapprove of outward manifestations of prejudice like name calling – he’s certainly too smart to indulge in it publicly. Unlike some people.

“You really believe that granting the big oil companies more leases will help our situation. They do not need any more leases issued to them. They have millions of leases in some of the greatest oil and gas producing spots in the world and that is right here in America.”

I don’t recall saying that. Perhaps you are pre-judging me.

R Jensen:

Once the Iraqis accept the fact that we are going to leave then a framework can be set up to make that happen. With more and more leaders, like Obama, Al maliki, Gordon Brown and even the Bush Adminstration, coming out endorsing the position of our leaving, the more real it becomes to the Iraqis and the sooner regional leaders will be able to come up with a plan to make that happen.

alance:

Iranian theocracy is, in many peoples minds, the model for the rest of the world. Zakaria points out that the American form of democracy is one of the least democratic in use today.

Harvard grads tend to stick together with a jaundiced view of America and a let's negotiate with Iran attitude. Iran has been giving the world the finger while they continue to build the big bomb. The Iranians will eat Obama for lunch.

TDK:

Although I like and respect Mr. Zakaria (I question my respect now), it is unknown where he obtains this history of Mr. Obama other that some unaccountable discussions. That is, Mr. Zakaria's belief is based upon the his hope of what he believes Mr. Obama stated and that Mr. Obama is to be believed. Mr. Zakaria forgets that Mr. Obama has very little history of any action to be believed in.

Mr Zakari'a comments on Mr. McCain can be believed because of Mr. McCain's history. However, because Mr. Zakari'a comments are ones of comparison, his analysis is useless. That is, Mr. Obama is an unknown and Mr. McCain is a known and anyone can invent the unknown and win a useless argument.

Zach Beller:

Mr. Zakaria is consistent. He LONGS for limits on US power. His reference to Dean Acheson is a non-starter: inappropriate. No way, no how, would Acheson have countenanced nuclear Iran. Bottom line, Mr. Zakaria; to date McCain has been vastly more right, as in less wrong, than Michele's poodle. Now, that "judgment" doesn't buttress your mindset, you are trying the "temperament" thing. Why not pull out all stops, Barrak's suits are better (probably on the par with Jesse's, Louis', and Jeremiah's). Go 4 it, vote 4 an empty suit.

ZZim:

Hi Anonymous, don’t think I’ve seen you on here before (hehe):

“The Iraq war has been financed wholly through deficit spending …. Don't believe we're in a recession? Fine, scream it from the hilltops and see where that gets you.”

Reply: Dude, everything is financed partly through deficit spending as long as part of the budget is deficit. If the budget deficit is 10%, then everything is financed 10% through deficit spending. In economics the word is “fungible”. Look it up.

A recession is a specific economics term defined as 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth. The economy grew last quarter. Therefore we are not in a recession. The grass is green. The sky is blue. Water flows downhill. We are not in a recession.

“Which [stability] is predicated on restricting the rights of their citizens, which you also claim to be against...”

Reply: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman are four of the most socially progressive societies in the Mid-East. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive societies on the planet. I may be an Idealist, but you can’t go around basing international policy on idealism. A good example would be Zimbabwe. Would invading Zimbabwe and deposing Mugabe be a huge step toward the common good and the Rights of Man? Absolutely. Is it a good idea? No.

“Syria out of Lebanon?? Libya has given up terrorism???”

Reply: Yes, the Syrian Army left Lebanon. It was on the news. There were pictures.

When was the last Libyan-sponsored terrorist act? I can’t even remember. Must have been before the Clinton administration. The Libyans also gave up their nuclear ambitions. About the same time we captured Saddam. Probably not a co-incidence.

“Our "ally" in Iraq is also allied with their neighbor, Iran.”

Reply: They should be, Iran is their neighbor. It’s called a love-hate triangle. Happens in Jr. High and in international politics all the time.

“There's a reason the military isn't, and won't, declare the surge a success beyond the operational level- we won't know for another decade.”

Reply: So … you support an American troop presence in Iraq for the next 10 years? Might take that long. More like 15 or 20 I think. Most insurgencies take about 20-25 years to die out.

“Me, given the choice between a weakened and checked Saddam Hussein still in power and a comparatively stable Gulf region compared to the situation today, I choose the former (and that's not even including the costs of the war to our country economically, diplomatically, and militarily).”

Reply: I can see that. I disagree. The world is a better place without him.

Michael:

"He should show maturity and senility before making statements on foreign policy on Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Ummmm, care to rephrase?

"To think that a modern country that sits on vast amounts of oil, positioned between Iran and the Sunni Middle east which terrorists have publicly said is a high priority and call that a distraction. Then want to concentrate our efforts on a very poor backward nation, with no strategic assets that has swallowed up vast armies and is extremely difficult to fight in is just ridiculous. He is completely out of his league and it is scary."

So where was 9-11 planned from, and who attacked us on that day, and where are they??

Michael:

Sorry, I was anonymous at 11:27am

martin,new york,usa:

This is an excellent piece. It is the most comprehensive, objective and nuanced view of Obama's foreign policy perspective and an excellent contrast between him and McCain.
McCain appears to me to be an older, but not wiser version of President Bush, a believer in the "might makes right" credo that belongs more in the bygone Cold War era. In fact, his world view seems much closer to Dick Cheney's. Is this what America needs? He appears to be bent on arousing jingoistic emotions in the country based on a tunnel visioned, inflexible and shallow foreign policy perspective, that lacks the depth and complexity needed to confront the problems facing America. It is this outlook that has created the difficult situation America currently finds itself with regards to foreign policy.
Imagine if we had not invaded Iraq and had concentrated all our military might and and treasure on Afghanistan, truly finishing off the Taliban, actually capturing Bin Ladn and removing Al-Qaeda from the region. That's what an Obama presidency would have resulted in.
We need presidential leadership that is rooted in intelligence, reflection, and a nuanced understanding of the complexities of the international issues confronting America. We don't need a leader like McCain, who like Bush and Cheney believes that such qualities are rooted in naivety and false idealism.
I agree with the premise of this excellent article that it is actually the Republicans, who under the leadership of the likes of Bush, Cheney and now McCain who are blinded by false idealism and a perspective of America rooted in a John Waynesque grandiose and mythological vision of America that never existed in the first place.

Jane:

Reference to ZZIM

We all heard Obama say the same thing on TV and Fareed was no where around.

And believe you me, even if they do not want to admit it, the rednecks do cling to their guns and religion. He did get that right.

We all want a different America than the one we have now. This government is taking the heart out of us, it’s steeling the money out of our pocket, this government is taking the food from our tables. And McCain is not the one who can even remotely come anywhere near to taking care of any of our major problems. He will only help in stretching it out for another few decades. By then the government will have all of us where “it” wants us. We will have less say in the matter than we do now.

You really believe that granting the big oil companies more leases will help our situation. They do not need any more leases issued to them. They have millions of leases in some of the greatest oil and gas producing spots in the world and that is right here in America.

The only thing standing in the way is the need for more investors. That is what the big oil companies are waiting for, more money flowing into their coiffures before they will bring it forth from the ground.

The short term solution/economy fix that the people are looking for is right here. We all need to get behind Obama to get the government behind pushing for the drilling on all the leases they have already, not new ones out in the Gulf where it is not already a sure thing. Use the drilling on these leases now not next year.

Anonymous:

Obama is truly an idiot. To think that a modern country that sits on vast amounts of oil, positioned between Iran and the Sunni Middle east which terrorists have publicly said is a high priority and call that a distraction. Then want to concentrate our efforts on a very poor backward nation, with no strategic assets that has swallowed up vast armies and is extremely difficult to fight in is just ridiculous. He is completely out of his league and it is scary.

Saqib khan:

Barack Obama is rather impetus and shooting from his hip advocating to withdraw from Iraq according to a fixed timetable of sixteen months. I do not believe that it would be logistically possible and practicable. He should show maturity and senility before making statements on foreign policy on Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was extremely unwise when he endorsed to the American Jewish lobby that Jerusalem is undisputed capital of Israel. His shifting and dithering verbosity will not help his campaign, which has gone so well with his supporters.

I believe that he is still the best buy on the American stock market but needs tuition to “think before you speak” when it matters international affairs and US foreign policy. I consider him to a better alternative than John McCain who would be an extension of G W Bush failed and cocked - up foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. He wants to occupy Iraq for one hundred years without ever thinking for a moment how many thousands of American lives would be lost and millions of Iraqi would die, and horrendous death and destruction caused to innocent Iraqi lives.

Perhaps John McCain is so naive to understand difference between illegal occupation, colonialism and American imperialism? Is he a colonialist who believes in illegally invading foreign lands and illegally occupying them for hundred years? What a stupid, illogical and naïve thing to say!


President G W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, American neo-cons, warmongers, the manipulators and architects of illegal wars and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, have to, at the end of the day, have something to say to the American people for all the blood, fury, death and destruction and wasting over one trillion dollars that the United States has spent in these misadventures. How could these shameless looters explain to their people that the real intention to invade Iraq was greed of oil and war booty and not the so-called vision of imposed ‘democracy’ as the president called it, at the point of a gun or dropping smart bombs on Iraqi cities and towns. Democracy evolves as an evolutionary process and takes decades to mature but the messy fume filled, blood spilling kitchen-democracy cooked by president G W Bush and the West has resulted in permanent rule of the Shias in Iraq through the ballot box and endless blood letting of the Sunnis.

The Shias wanted this outcome all-along; they collided, conspired and instigated illegal invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein so that Shia’s centuries old dream of ruling Iraq was fulfilled. It was the treachery and conspiracy of Shia religious and politicians leaders that caused massacre of over 250,000 and expulsion of half a million Sunnis and destruction of Iraqi infra-structure to achieve a democracy that is impracticable and unsustainable in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the Iranian mullahs joke, “ President Bush did them a favour by getting rid of Saddam Hussein for them and not an Iranian life was lost.” Iranian mullahs are the biggest beneficiary of Iraqi quagmire.

Who so ever becomes the 45th president of United States of America will have to ensure that any plan to withdraw will guarantee safety, security and dignity of Sunnis lives and their well- being.

jerry rubin:

Although there is many layers of Farreed Zakaria's statements, the key that he points out is what most families want - jobs, food, healtchcare and decent life to see their children have children.

This is so basic, but an approach so simple when we take away greed and imperialism.

The only part I would disagree is some of the people who he relies upon as backup people to the candidates admire list.

Anonymous:

ZZIM, in addition to the history refresher you are in need of that I and others have pointed out, you need to brush up on economics. It's too bad the education system has so let you down:

"Reply: Awfully distorted view, Adra. The economy is not bankrupt. That’s all political rhetoric put out by politicians for the on the theory that if you repeat the same lie enough, gullible people will believe you. What is true is that the economy isn’t growing as fast as it was last year. There is no connection between that and the Iraq war. But politicians know that some folks are easy to fool if you pronounce a connection often enough."

Ahh yes, we're all a bunch of whiners (I've heard that before). The Iraq war has been financed wholly through deficit spending, which in turn has weakened the US dollar, which is heavily contributing to many of our current economic problems (driving up the price of oil, destabilizing financial markets, undercutting the banking industry, etc), which is impacting the lower end of the economic spectrum hardest. Don't believe we're in a recession? Fine, scream it from the hilltops and see where that gets you. My guess is 40 years in the political wilderness.

"The Saudis Kuwaitis, Bahrainis and Omanis are. Your material well-being is dependent on their ability to conduct their oil business in peace."

Which is predicated on restricting the rights of their citizens, which you also claim to be against...

"And I honestly don’t see and additional “fracturing” in the Middle East. I just don’t. I’ve been following foreign events for some 20 years now and I don’t see much different except that Saddam is gone and we have a new ally (good), Syria is out of Lebanon (good), Libya has given up terrorism (good), Arabs hate us (no change), everything is all our fault (no change). I just don’t see it. I’d like to be good and run along with the rest of the herd, but I just don’t see it the same way."

Syria out of Lebanon?? Libya has given up terrorism??? I've got a bridge to sell you if you believe that. Our "ally" in Iraq is also allied with their neighbor, Iran. Our "ally" also wants us out- by 2010 per Maliki today. Our "ally" is a weak parlaimentary democracy that is highly unstable and will be for the forseeable future, but is just strong enough to push us out now because the people of Iraq don't want us there, haven't for some time. The problem with the "surge"- in the end, it's just LINEBACKER I&II all over again- give us cover for "peace with honor," and then let the whole thing crumble after we're gone. At least this time it will be completely at the host government's request.

You say you've followed foreign affairs for 20 years? Then you should be familiar with Maoist insurgent doctrine- do the opposite of what your enemy does. They attack, you retreat; they make camp, you attack; the ultimate objective is to prolongue the struggle and bleed your enemy while gaining strength. Watch out for al Sadr, and for that matter Qods Forces, al Qa'ida, neo-Ba'athists, and all the other groups who seek to de-stablize the country. There's a reason the military isn't, and won't, declare the surge a success beyond the operational level- we won't know for another decade.

Me, given the choice between a weakened and checked Saddam Hussein still in power and a comparatively stable Gulf region compared to the situation today, I choose the former (and that's not even including the costs of the war to our country economically, diplomatically, and militarily).

Jabli Izvesti:

The U.S market currently favors the Democrats.So,books and opinios endorsing the Democrats sell better and stand to make more money.Zakaria naturally opts for this trend.This is capitalist democracy in vigorous action.

Adrian:

Zakaria is a hack. Zakaria, "Facts. I don't need no facts. I don't need no stinking facts."

It is apparent that most people in the mainstream media talk to people who know people but do not live in the areas that they talk about. It is apparent that most politicians do the same.

I have just as much experience living abroad, learning and developing a world view than Obama does.

The "temperment" comment shows just how naive you seem to be. McCain has been through hell for his country, as a member of the military, following orders to do whatever he was told, as are the living and dead soldiers of any US military force has done since 1776.

This comment was nothing more than a CHEAP shot, indicating you know nothing, I mean, nothing, about the effects of events that McCain, and many other soldiers and civilians for that matter, and how a human being survives these experiences, actually thrives after them, and can function quite well, thank you very much.


After reading this article, it seems you too have jumped on the I am famous now because I am on TV with my own show, and gee that must mean I know a great deal about a great deal. I can write say anything I want (regardless of whether it reflects experience, common sense, life wisdom which often comes with age.

Credibility score 2 out of 10

Gbenga :

Jane,

Thank you for a thoughtful analysis. I sometimes get frustrated like you are when i listen to the interviewers and commentaries on radio and TV.

Every important message gets lost in the mist of sound bite reporting. I realized the best way around this media psycho-drama is to read the transcript. Some of the media interpretation doesn’t somtimes align with the transcript e.g. pay close attention to AP stories/reporting.

Back to Zakaria's article, when it comes to Foreign policy, Obama has always presented a nuance view on how to deal with the complex world compared to McCain. What I’d love to see is additional follow up on how they both intend to deal with rising china and loose nukes.

teddyballgame:

Didn't Mr. Zakaria's book sales (The Post-American World) jump once Obama was seen in photographs holding a copy?

I'm a big fan of Obama and Zakaria, but isn't that worth mentioning while we're all being so analytical?

k. shashi kant:

this piece says what i would think: elegantly,simply and without the usual labels and rants that come from the left or the right. America's self interest is to develop our economy and as is evident today a weakening nation at home cannot be strong abroad.First and foremost, let us stop throwing any more lives and money at the quagmire that is Iraq. American innovation should be used to make us truly energy independent. This will free us from the shackes of all the oil plutocracies and in addition this will add jobs and make America the leader of the world again. We do not get to be leaders by screaming terrorism as a cover for more oil predation as has been the sad practice for the past 7 plus years. The nation is broke and broken. We need to set an example by tightening our belts, working towards non-fossil fuels and technologies and freeing ourselves form mideast oil: all we are doing is propping up those very regimes we decry as supporting terrorism and threatening our security.
I only hope enough Americans will realise that we need no more of the same tired old George W Bush strategies and seek a direction that IS in the interests of ALL Americans- not just a few oil people. All we have to fear is fear itself.

Gbenga :

In response to B.M

This article is not about the surge but rather a philosophical guidance on how the two leaders will approach foreign policy. It seems you are missing the main thesis of Zakaria’s essay. The surge and Iraq invasion should be a subject of another debate. Please stay within the scope of the article.

ZZim:

Joyce said: "ZZIM... I think you need to brush up on your history! I think you are under the delusion that all U.S. and British activity in the mideast has been that of benevolent protectors. Protectors, yes...but, protecting the OIL."

Yes. And you should be grateful. The Saudis Kuwaitis, Bahrainis and Omanis are. Your material well-being is dependent on their ability to conduct their oil business in peace.

"My vote will be for the CHANGE Barack Obama will bring to our nation and to reestablishing our moral authority in the world."

Good luck with that. You're probably the change you have been waiting for.

Jane:

I have read a great many things about both of the elected senators. I have listened to many news commentaries concerning them.

What I am seeing, hearing and reading is that most everyone is a selective (listener) and/or (reader). If the interviewer/reader or writer does not hear what the interviewee really say/said because the interviewee has not answered the question in the way that the writer/interviewer—news anchors, reporters expects or wants to hear; the news becomes obscured/distorted/slanted toward the interviewer. Then the main issue that has been asked becomes lost to the public because of the forceful pushing for what the interviewer/reader wanted to hear/see.

I have noticed this more-so in the primaries and general election campaign than any time in my life. You can only imagine how irritating this is. I want to bop the person or holler at them, weren’t you listening? Didn’t you just hear what was being answered/said I wanted to shout at them, I think not? I can only say that they did not because they did not hear what they wanted to hear or what they perceive to be the facts as has been force fed to them.

Everyone wants to get a conceived perception across to the exclusion of everything else. Even me, I have not been an exception to this “selective issue..’s) either. We all need to be better listeners and readers if we really want to (get it). Not let the main issue get lost in all the rhetoric being pushed upon you.

But, my perception is, I can see that Fareed Zakaria has a very good instinctual feeling and insight to both of the contestants’.

ZZim:

Adrasteia wrote: “I just wish ZZIM would elaborate on why he or she thinks a war of aggression, based on faulty information or lies, illegally prosecuted can ever be a success.”

Reply: Careful what you wish for Adra, you just might get it.

“I believe ZZIM means the surge has been a success but it has not achieved the main objective Bush identified, that the government of Iraq would forge alliances between its opposing factions. To forge political alliances in Bush's words. That has not been done.”

Reply: No, I mean the war was a good idea and has successfully achieved its objectives. Saddam out of power. Free democratic ally in place of a totalitarian terrorism-supporting enemy. And they’re working on those political reconciliations. Perhaps you didn’t notice – the Sunni coalition came back yesterday. It was in the news. I saw it myself.

“The surge has reduced violence because not so much because of the number of troops in Iraq but because of the change in strategy from shooting on sight to peacemaking (how strange, no?) and because this administration is dropping huge amounts of money into the laps of key players to buy their cooperation.”

Reply: Yep, that’s exactly how we did it. Pretty clever, huh? Once the Army and Marines got acclimated to their new environment, they figured out how to succeed at their mission and they did.

“In now way, shape, or form can the Iraq war be called a success, unless you consider killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis a success. Unless you call bankrupting our economy a success. Unless you call destabilizing the already fractured middle east a success. Unless you call imposing your goals on a sovereign nation a success. “

Reply: Awfully distorted view, Adra. The economy is not bankrupt. That’s all political rhetoric put out by politicians for the on the theory that if you repeat the same lie enough, gullible people will believe you. What is true is that the economy isn’t growing as fast as it was last year. There is no connection between that and the Iraq war. But politicians know that some folks are easy to fool if you pronounce a connection often enough.

And I honestly don’t see and additional “fracturing” in the Middle East. I just don’t. I’ve been following foreign events for some 20 years now and I don’t see much different except that Saddam is gone and we have a new ally (good), Syria is out of Lebanon (good), Libya has given up terrorism (good), Arabs hate us (no change), everything is all our fault (no change). I just don’t see it. I’d like to be good and run along with the rest of the herd, but I just don’t see it the same way.

B.M.:

In order to qualify as a "foreign policy realist" a person needs to acknowledge reality.

Reality: the surge in Iraq has been a success.

Therefore, in order for Obama to qualify as a "foreign policy realist", he should acknowledge he was wrong about the surge, and John McCain was right.


Joyce:

ZZIM...
I think you need to brush up on your history! I think you are under the delusion that all U.S. and British activity in the mideast has been that of benevolent protectors. Protectors, yes...but, protecting the OIL.

You do know that, in the 50's, the U.S. CIA staged a coupe in Iran to overthrow the only democratically elected government (besides Israel) in the region. Why? Because Iran was about to nationalize their oil industry and British Petroleum would be kicked out. The coupe was successful and the U.S. put its puppet the Shah of Iran in to do its bidding.

That's only one incedent. Learn your history. I love my country, but our governments don't always take the high road. We have to hold them accountable. Electing John McCain would be a continuation of the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive War and Lord knows what else. My vote will be for the CHANGE Barack Obama will bring to our nation and to reestablishing our moral authority in the world.

J.D.Solano:

Fareed, after your convoluted article claiming that WE ARE NOT AT WAR, nothing you write or say means anything.

Gbenga :

Thank you Fareed Zakaria, this is one of the best piece I have read since the inception of the presidential campaign. As a new citizen of this country, I have always believed that what makes American great is their sense of realism and idealism. The combination of both -ism is what makes a good foreign policy.

The world is getting complex everyday and the world needs a leader that can steer the ship in a right direction. McCain should know better when it comes to our dealing with Russia. Either we like it or not, Russia is still a force to be reckoned with and the rise of China makes the world even more complex. I sure agree that we need to bring both countries on board if we are to maintain a global peace. Obama’s approach is more realistic and pragmatic.

The mistake George Bush made is not his embracement of idealism but his total disregard for realism and nuance. In a complex world, a leader must embrace absolute nuance if he/she is to be successful. The problem I’ve got with my new country (Country I have come to love) is that the media doesn't present a nuance view to its audience. If there is one thing that scares me, it is how simplistic the media have made serious foreign policy issues to be. They've reduce everything to a sound bite and that scares me to death.

David Kreda:

Good essay.

David Brooks, a conservative columnist, in a speech in February 2008) at Claremont McKenna Athenaeum, said much the same thing about Senator Obama.

Senator Obama may be understood as someone with a liberal mind but conservative soul. Thus, he is not prepared to act as if the core beliefs and situations of others can be transformed, for example, by a quick invasion and a supervised election. The type of multi-generational, fiscally open-ended, and morally degenerating commitment that would be necessary is something that Americans, even idealists, eventually reject as a misuse (if not grand abuse) of the American nation.

It is therefore an irony of our political discourse that a "liberal" Senator Obama is disposed to a type of realism in foreign policy while the polar opposite thinking animates Senator McCain and neoconservative foreign policy promoters. Nonetheless, after six years of war of neoconservative choice, most Americans are clearly attuned to the costs of idealism, if not yet fully appreciative of the simple-mindedness that provoked it.

One last "conservative" fiscal note: the American commitment to policing Iraq is currently costing in excess of $300 billion per year. In a country with fewer than 30 million people, or, more to the point, fewer than 10 million families, the continuing American expenditure exceeds $30,000 per family per year. One can scarcely believe that an open-ended fiscal commitment of this type cannot be sustained politically, without even factoring in the cost in American lives and limbs.

Neal :

I've asked this question time and time again, why do we continue to say that the surge is working. That's like saying if ONLY Ho Chi Minh had pulled his forces back we would have won in Vietnam. Muqtada al-Sadr pulled his Madi Army back(see cease fire)If we were still fighting The Madi Army, McCain and his conservative henchmen would be asking for more soldiers, marines, airmen, etc. (see Westmoreland). Please get a grip people,just as soon as the United States vacates Iraq, be it in 16 months or 100 years Muqtada al-Sadr along with the Madi Army will show the world who holds the real power in Iraq. He's biding his time.

rlritt:

"FDR had to be poked in the eye before he got some anger up in 1942, Clinton had better things to do, and Carter was speechless with Iran. Bush got poked in the eye, and responded in kind! Obama is simply following the play book of democrats - Can't we all just get along. Sad but true, passive doesn't work!!"

It was the Republicans in congress who opposed going to war with Germany. Many of them were pro-Hitler in the 1930's because Nazi's supported corporatism and nastionalism.

"Mr. Obama ceases to be disingenuous and naive only when he focuses on fulfilling his own ambition. The old media carries his water because the blood flow to their brains has been disrupted by the thrill going up and down the leg when Obama reads his scripts.
Obama's position on Iraq is a muddled hash of non-sequiturs. That nation is a "distraction", yet al Qaeda's defeat there is resonating throughout the Arab street. Yet, Obama has shown that getting out quickly has been his only policy."

On the contrary, the media has virtually given McCain a pass. I never read any news about his lobbyist connections or his anti veteran voting record. Regardless, Al Quada was a distraction because it was never in Iraq until we removed Sadaam and allowed them to enter. Which probably was the plan all along. War is such an amazingly profitable business.

By the way, I believe al Quada is still living in Afghanistan and Pakistan where they have always been based. And since neither is an Arab country I don't see what the Arab street has to do with it.

Jack:

The words conservative and liberal have so many different meanings its hard to state accurately what those words really mean. The conservatives of today are the descendants of the 19th century liberals afraid of big government interference - today 20th century liberals are afraid of the conflict between the good of multi-nationals and that of the nation.

However, what really differentiates Obama from McCain is a preference of the scientific & infrastructure approach to the energy crisis versus a market approach. The market approach can work in a transitional period like the one we find ourselves in now only after considerable havoc and delay.

Obama is trying to divert precious resources away from Iraq and towards meeting the national good - McCain sees all goods flowing from the Market and the only way the Market can continue to work is if more oil is provided to the system. The market suffers from asset inertia and the scientific approach/infrastructure approach requires massive investment. The market approach offers no guarantees - building new infrastructure does. The sun can be used to power trains, cars, and a whole lot more. Oil is running out - the sun has another 5 billion years or so. Let's go with the sun.

ZZim:

RSS added: "Thing is Fareed is making the assumption that everything Obama say's he believes in. .... So who is the real Obama? Does he really admire Bush41 and Reagan or does he think saying he does appeals to independent voters? "

I think he thought that it would appeal to Fareed Zakaria. Fareed reports that he said it in a private interview. So we can assume that Obama thinks that if he says he admires Bush41, then Fareed will develop a positive impression of him.

There is no "real" Obama. Like many other successful politicians, he presents the outward image of being whoever he thinks his audience wants to follow. When he's addressing snooty San Fran intelligentsia, he talks down about rednecks who cling to guns and religion. When he talks to Black people in front of White people he channels Bill Cosby. When he's hanging out with his inner circle, he "hates Whitey" too. When he's addressing gullible young people, he says - I can hardly type this this is so funny - "We are the change we've been waiting for" - and they eat that up.

And when he's talking privately to a nationally-known and well-respected journalist who's positions on foreign affairs are widely known and respected - he tells him what he knows he wants to hear.

Jaxas:

In the truly meaningful ways, John McCain is very much like George W. Bush. If you watch and listen to both men closely, you cannot escape the conclusion that they are both jingoists. Jingoism is defined as excessive patriotism to the point where one is blinded to the realities of any situation.

Listening to both Bush and McCain, they both evoke this notion of American "exceptionlism"--the notion that America alone serves as the model nation-state on which all free nations must base their models. The more extreme extension of this view--a view that both McCain and Bush share--is that at times America even has the right and the duty to excludes itself from the global agreements and treaties we have signed having to do with the moral conduct of nations.

It is precisely this dogged, jingoist worldview--shared by Bush and McCain--that has brought America to its present state of moral disintegration in the world. It is a word view that has been promugated by a realtively small band of think tank officials who came into power after Bush was elected, allied themselves closely with Vice President Cheney, and doggedly pursued global ideological objectives loosely called the Bush Doctrine--which included a unilaterally based military policy to use American ground troops in nations suspected of harboring terrorists. The larger component of that doctrine was the use of hard power to spready western style democracy (specifically US political ideas) into the rest of the world.

Bush is ardently McCain because they are both committed to this worldview. A defeat for McCain means the end of the Bush Doctrine forever.

Scrapster:

I like the "poke in the eye" analogy. America is going to get poked in the eye constantly. The question is, how do we pick our battles? Bush has been swinging punches about blindly after the invasion of Afganistan--and making Americans look like fools because of it. His "I don't do nuance" foreign policy is at the level of a fifth-grader responding to taunts in a school yard. Sadly, the world is more comlpicated than that.

Regarding other reader comments, is Iraq really a success? That won't be determined for many, many years. Right now, comparing the removal of Saddam with the hundreds of thousands of deaths,the resurgence of the Taliban in Afganistan on our watch, and the dopey WMD argument--I'd say its currently a wash or a negative at the moment.

And for this reader's identifier, "Compassionate AMERICAN-Hispanic Conservative"--actually, having "America" as the noun, not the modifying adjective (as in the more common "Hispanic American")is the stronger way to state that you're an American. As written, you're saying that you're a Hispanic first, that happens to be an American--probably not what you meant. Also, you may say that Obama is unwise, but questioning his intelligence is a lost cause. That he's a smart guy is pretty unassailable.

Dr.Annette Reed:

I've lived in vaarious states as part of assignments, then overseas for years. Now I am in Tennessee and find myself suddenly slandered for living in "Appalachia", where idiots live. (See Andrea Mitchell-NBC). Nevertheless, many people here can trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War, and we are appalled. People who just got to the U.S. are major influences in government. Like Bush, Obama is a fool (see Dwight), but he exactly fits the description you folks want for 2008. Blindly ambitious, naive, malleable, needs money,rock-star image,far-far leftwing. You can explain his inexperience away using lovely adjectives and use him to make this country into what you want, 180 degrees from what its founders established. Wife Michelle will help if you stop her public little-girl speeches deriding Americans. The White House is about to become a place which will make our founders turn over in their graves.

philosopherkingtomas:

Israel's ego is not worth a world war, Israel arrogance forgets less stable countries such as Paskistan and India (and George "w" little world) also have nuclear weapons. Israel needs to treat the Palestinians like humans its that simple.

Matt:

"If you know an example of passive working Fareed, please give us a clue! Sad but true."

The U.S. victory in the Cold War involved a considerable amount of restraint. You might even call it prudent restraint. We never attacked the Soviet Union, the greatest physical security threat that our country has ever faced. Were we being foolishly passive?

Both North Korea and Iran have ties to terrorists and are pursuing WMD programs. According to the Bush Doctrine, we should attack and occupy Iran and North Korea forthwith.

Is this realistic? Is it our best option?

Adrasteia:

"I just wish he thought it were to his political advantage to admit the Iraq war is a success..."

I just wish ZZIM would elaborate on why he or she thinks a war of aggression, based on faulty information or lies, illegally prosecuted can ever be a success.

I believe ZZIM means the surge has been a success but it has not achieved the main objective Bush identified, that the government of Iraq would forge alliances between its opposing factions. To forge political alliances in Bush's words. That has not been done.

The surge has reduced violence because not so much because of the number of troops in Iraq but because of the change in strategy from shooting on sight to peacemaking (how strange, no?) and because this administration is dropping huge amounts of money into the laps of key players to buy their cooperation.

In now way, shape, or form can the Iraq war be called a success, unless you consider killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis a success. Unless you call bankrupting our economy a success. Unless you call destabilizing the already fractured middle east a success. Unless you call imposing your goals on a soveriegn nation a success.

McCain and the GOP's dary pessimism has turned our country in to a frightened people who fear their own shadows. Americans biggest threat is heart disease and terrorism doesn't even make the CDCs list. But most Americans won't do what it takes to live a longer, healthier life rather they hide behind the skirts of a warmongers like Bush and McCain.

Our founders who pledged their lives and sacred honor to create this nation surely must be ashamed.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

If the vision of the mad Israeli professor of history cited below…


…is an accurate representation of the mind set of current Israeli leadership; and it probably is, then it is time for the U.S to launch a preventive strike against Israel. It is paramount that we immediately destroy the Israeli armed forces…Army, Navy, and Air Force…as well as their nuclear arsenal and power plants.

ZZim:

"Getting out of there leaving a Lebanon-like weak democracy that will likely be a festering wound in the region for a generation while empowering Iran is hardly a success"

Yup, that would be a problem. And one of the possibilities depending on how the next President handles the situation. It's also about 10 times better than what we had before, but we need to stay engaged with Iraq exactly as we have our other Persian Gulf allies for the last 60 years. Previous to WWII, the British Empire protected the Gulf states from expansionist empires to the north. After WWII, we took on that role. Hence Desert Shield, etc.

Now we've just pushed the umbrella of American military protection further north. So nothing has really changed except we've eliminated an enemy and pushed our defensive frontier up to the Iranian border. It's an incremental change to our activities in the region, but one that can have profound positive consequences if we play our cards right.

Obama may feel that he needs to throw this gain away in order to gain some domestic political advantage. That makes me sad, because the Iraqi people and the US military have labored so long and hard and given so much to throw it all away now for partisan political advantage back here in the States.

That's just the cold-facts analysis. Personally, I'm an Idealist. I view the Iraq war as part of a civil-rights struggle.

Kevin Morgan:

If the surge was so successful, why can't we leave? McCain's claim that we must stay until they are secure is the perfect open ended non-commitment that would allow him to justify staying there forever. To McCain and the republicans, it isn't about Iraq's security at all, its about securing Iraq's oil.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

The Apocalyptic Vision of Benny Morris … and a Challenge for Mr. Obama

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/opinion/18morris.html?sq=Israel&st=cse&scp=7&pagewanted=print~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ISRAEL will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb. ~~~~~~ But, as a result of the Iraq imbroglio, and what is rapidly turning into the Afghan imbroglio, the American public has little enthusiasm for wars in the Islamic lands. This curtails the White House’s ability to begin yet another major military campaign in pursuit of a goal that is not seen as a vital national interest by many Americans; which leaves only Israel — the country threatened almost daily with destruction by Iran’s leaders. ~~~~~~ The problem is that Israel’s military capacities are far smaller than America’s and, given the distances involved, the fact that the Iranian sites are widely dispersed and underground, and Israel’s inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely that the Israeli conventional forces, even if allowed the use of Jordanian and Iraqi airspace (and perhaps, pending American approval, even Iraqi air strips) can destroy or perhaps significantly delay the Iranian nuclear project. ~~~~~~ Nonetheless, Israel, believing that its very existence is at stake — and this is a feeling shared by most Israelis across the political spectrum — will certainly make the effort. Israel’s leaders, from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert down, have all explicitly stated that an Iranian bomb means Israel’s destruction; Iran will not be allowed to get the bomb. ~~~~~~ The best outcome will be that an Israeli conventional strike, whether failed or not — and, given the Tehran regime’s totalitarian grip, it may not be immediately clear how much damage the Israeli assault has caused — would persuade the Iranians to halt their nuclear program…… But the more likely result is that the international community will continue to do nothing effective and that Iran will speed up its efforts to produce the bomb that can destroy Israel. The Iranians will also likely retaliate by attacking Israel’s cities with ballistic missiles (possibly topped with chemical or biological warheads); by prodding its local clients, Hezbollah and Hamas, to unleash their own armories against Israel; and by activating international Muslim terrorist networks against Israeli and Jewish — and possibly American — targets worldwide (though the Iranians may at the last moment be wary of provoking American military involvement). ~~~~~~ Such a situation would confront Israeli leaders with two agonizing, dismal choices. One is to allow the Iranians to acquire the bomb and hope for the best — meaning a nuclear standoff, with the prospect of mutual assured destruction preventing the Iranians from actually using the weapon. The other would be to use the Iranian counterstrikes as an excuse to escalate and use the only means available that will actually destroy the Iranian nuclear project: Israel’s own nuclear arsenal. ~~~~~~
Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war. They are likely to use any bomb they build, both because of ideology and because of fear of Israeli nuclear pre-emption. Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable. The alternative is letting Tehran have its bomb. In either case, a Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust would be in the cards. ~~~~~~ Iran’s leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Bar this, the best they could hope for is that Israel’s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland. Some Iranians may believe that this is a worthwhile gamble if the prospect is Israel’s demise. But most Iranians probably don’t. ~~~~~~ Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University, is the author, most recently, of “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.”

Joyce:

Thank you Fareed for your thoughtful analysis. I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion that Barack Obama expresses a more realistic view of the world. Much moreso than the Bush administration's "with or against us" philosophy. And John McCain definitely follows the Bush doctrine of military action above diplomacy. You would think by now that lessons would have been learned that you CANNOT establish democratic ideals by force. And I sometimes wonder if the conservatives are not confusing capitalistic goals and profiteering, with true democratic ideals of equality and justice for all.

John:

I just wonder whether Obama and Mccain study what happened in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets? or the brits before that?
The "slow bleed"..the many cuts.
The patient waiting out of the invaders.
That is more important, how to defeat or seal with that, rather than throwing 2 more brigades worth of logs on the fire.
Is the intelligence agencies, black ops, all that working out a way to actually combat these people?
Or will the US, just occupy, hunker down and slowly belled to death.
Like the Soviets?

James Steele:

I do not believe that Mr. Zakaria has derived the best conclusions in his article. Issues in US Foreign Policy are more than terrorism. Global Warming, the US economy, trade, among other issues demand diplomacy. Even where US security is threatened, a greater use of diplomacy is warranted (especially as the US budget cannot sustain its current levels of military investment). The development of better intelligence gathering, mulitlateral force development, and improved training for allied forces is essential in this new environment. The Bush form of realism has guaranteed that its use will be among the last alternatives for US Foreign Policy by future presidents for some time.

rss:

Thing is Fareed is making the assumption that everything Obama say's he believes in. Fact is when he was up against Hillary he was sounding very Liberal, now that it's the general election, he is sounding very moderate.. So who is the real Obama? Does he really admire Bush41 and Reagan or does he think saying he does appeals to independent voters? I think we need to judge actions. In 2006 when Iraq was going poorly and the country wanted us out asap Obama supported the popular opinon of a timeline to have us out in 2008. McCain went against popular opinon and said we needed a surge to bring order to Iraq before we could leave. Obama voted against the surge saying it would fail. Obama was WRONG and because of the surge we can now withdrawal troops from Iraq safely because we didn't listen to what he wanted to do... Obama always sounds good, but actions speak louder than words and when it came time for action McCain was RIGHT and Obama wasn't.

Baci:

Emphasizing the temperament is a very important thing that we have to keep in mind for evaluating the two candidates. In addition, we have to take into account that McCain has no much time left, so he will rush to implement his crazy ideas as quick as possible no matter what, for him it is easier to say: After me the deluge. Think people, think!

Michael:

"I just wish he thought it were to his political advantage to admit the Iraq war is a success and that we need to re-affirm our commitment to our new ally there."

Getting out of there leaving a Lebanon-like weak democracy that will likely be a festering wound in the region for a generation while empowering Iran is hardly a success, and the rhetoric of the Right admits as much declaring the need for a lasting military presence there because the successes of the surge are too fragile to survive a drawdown. But, our new ally wants us out, so what real alternative is there, maintain an occupation there against their will because w e know better than they do? Yeah, there's a real success story.

Daniel Hughes:

This article is excellent. Zakaria has given us an excellent and thoughtful analysis. He has more than earned his pay, that's for sure. One thing which Zakaria does not metnion is how Israel plays into all Obama's interest-based foreign policy. According to some views, it is not in the interests of the United States to be Israel's ally. This is because Israel has so many enemies. Indeed, Israel is a huge burden on the U.S., as all fair-minded observers must admit. Strategically speaking, then, the U.S. should try to distance itself from Israel, and try to become better friends with the other countries in the region. I think that is what Obama wants as well. But----of course he can't say this. I think people in Israel realize that Obama is not as pro-Israeli as the dumb-witted McCain. So they are worried about him. But I hope he wins the election.

Casey:

Sen. McCain is unschooled in anything other than war, and apparently he's losing his touch even on that subject. He reads, by his own admission, mainly war fiction and he travels in a personal, utterly opaque bubble.

Remember his free and safe walk through that Iraqi market last year? I think that he honestly didn't realize that he was accompanied by dozens of heavily armed troops, snipers and helicopters in order to ensure that he survived his stroll.

(His understanding of events seems to be dependent on having a smart guy in the bubble with him. Whether it is Lieberman, Gramm, or even that fired and discredited lady executive from HP, McCain seems to always need someone next to him to keep him straight.)

No matter how many grand tours McCain has allegedly taken, the man hasn't learned a thing.

Michael:

"FDR had to be poked in the eye before he got some anger up in 1942, Clinton had better things to do, and Carter was speechless with Iran. Bush got poked in the eye, and responded in kind! Obama is simply following the play book of democrats - Can't we all just get along. Sad but true, passive doesn't work!!"

FDR had been laying the ground work for WWII going back to the mid-30's, the people were overwhelmingly against him however because they saw no need to worry about the crazy guy in Europe when they had the seemingly more pressing matter of the depression to worry about at home. Clinton warned about bin Laden and launched missile strikes against him, too bad Republicans were more interested in impeaching him for his "other things." And Carter- while I'm no apologist for him- did launch a campaign to recover the hostages, too bad the military botched it so horribly...

"That nation is a "distraction", yet al Qaeda's defeat there is resonating throughout the Arab street."

How so? And if al Qa'ida has been defeated, why is there a strong chance they will re-emerge there if we pull out? And why call it "Islamofascism" when the Islamist movement is not corpratist, militarist, nor nationalist, the three essential elements of fascism?

"- - Sen. Obama got himself locked into a rigid timetable for departure from Iraq."

Not true, he's ALWAYS said 16 months was a goal, subject to conditions on the ground and the input of commanders, to stick to a rigid date would be "irresponsible" (his own words - 26 Sep 2007 at the MSNBC debate)

ZZim:

Hmm... so Obama is good at probing, analyzing, and manipulating? I'll agree with that.

I just wish he thought it were to his political advantage to admit the Iraq war is a success and that we need to re-affirm our commitment to our new ally there. He's determined to throw away something valuable there, I just know it.

EJB:

A good article, but I am left to wonder if the author focuses too much on process. Yes, Obama's emphasis on rational analysis will lead to a realist-centered approach. But left unanswered, so far, is exactly how Obama defines the national interest, the lodestone upon which foreign policy value judgments are made (especially by the realists). That is, if we take homeland security as a given as a national interest, then it is obvious that Obama's realism will be a welcome relief to platitudes about security that profit on fear. I have no doubt that Obama will get more done in 20 days than the Bush administration has accomplished in the past two years.

However, when the national interest becomes a balancing between competing concerns, say obtaining on the ground intelligence from the Sudanese regime about terrorists or stopping their blatant and horrific genocide, the President must look beyond process to values to answer such balancing tests. It is that issue which I think remains an open question for Obama.

(fyi, I am an Obama supporter)

"If you know an example of passive working Fareed, please give us a clue! Sad but true."

Mahatma Ghandi

rmorrow:

This article is also published in Newsweek, another corner of the liberal echo chamber.

Fareed also continues his partisan punditry on his weekend show on CNN, in which he and his panel regularly sneer at American conservatives. This weekend he kept badgering David Cameron to say that American conservatives are "off track", supposedly because all we care about is guns and abortions. (As if American liberals are not also concerned with guns and abortion.)

Fareed is a smart guy, but he is starting to veer into that standard Newsweek-Post-CNN/MSNBC territory.

Yawn.

tarry davis:

Thank you for a thoughtful piece, Fareed. I think Senator Obama represents a more realistic view of our role in the world today. For too long we have depended on the stick and not enough on walking softly. As someone who has spent years living and working in the private sector from Korea to Ireland, I believe we do too much lecturing and too little listening. Too many threats and not enough consensus building. Keep the stick, but just do not wave it about so much.

Bush and the neo-cons have an approach that is right out of the 19th Century. I hear it all the time from people I work with. The do not hate America. They simply want us to recognize we are not the center of their universe and behave accordingly.

I would also like to say that your new CNN show is a welcome relief from the Sunday political line-up. No shouting. No pundits with memorized talking points. Just some civilized conversation on subjects important to all of us. Well done!

COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret]:

Dear American Citizens and the Press

As a concerned citizen, I consider it is my duty to bring following message to you all.

"We the citizens of the United States of America have the ultimate responsibility to elect the " Right Candidate" to lead our nation, out of our huge present and future internal and external challenges as well as opportunities. This is to prevent depression and isolation in-spite of being the only superpower in the world morally, democratically, economically, and militarily.

We need to consider the "critical qualities and characteristics" of our presumptive presidential nominees at the time we vote.

In my personal and professional opinion the critical considerations are as under:


1. Calm, cool, and collected " temper " [ Presidential Temperament ].
2. Sound and sustained "Judgment and Caliber".
3. "Thought-fullness and togetherness" of purpose and positions.
4. Minimum "ex-poser and exploitation" around "Washington and Washington insiders".
5. Renewed " Vigor and Vision " for our Greatgrand Nation.
6. Foreign policy based on " American Values, Virtuous, Vastness".

Stay informed, stay involved, and stay engaged. Do not allow some partisan media, pundits, pollsters, and perpetual political opinion makers effect your vote in the wrong direction.

Don't be effected and duped by "Psychological Terrorism" that is afflicted upon you all the time.

Long live U.S.A and its diverse but democratic people.

Col. A.M. Khajawall [Ret] MD., ABFM., ABDA.
Chief Consultant: World Wide Porfessional Consultants[WWPC]
Colonel, USAR/MC Combat Stress Control[Ret], Disabled American Veteran and Freedom team.
Consultant Psychiatrist: CA State, Medical Board of California, and Los Angeles Mental Health Department
Address: 7642 Eaglehelm Court Las Vegas NV 89123

jon:

Very well said Rich!

Doug:

Mr. Zakaria’s analysis of Obama's world view is remarkably refreshing from all other assumptions of what Obama's foreign policies might look like should he be elected.

Given Obama's stated admiration for the foreign polices of former presidents, Truman, George H.W. Bush, and Reagan, it may indeed prove difficult to assign a label to Obama's overall approach to U.S. foreign policy.

Perhaps one thing we might be able to say is that the world's perception of just what America represents is likely to change with an Obama presidency. He appears to be someone that may have the ability to pleasantly astound our friends and confound our enemies around the world as they too struggle to reconcile their labels and perceptions of what America represents with the realties of an Obama presidency.


Doug

Budi:

Obama might become a President practising a well-proven Javanese method, which is governing by consensus.

SAME:

Thank you Fareed for your very well thought of observations and giving us few important traits to consider when analyzing the two candidates before us.

In my opinion, Obama views of foreign policy is going to have more positive impact on the world politics than McCains. I think McCain's forign policy is to push forward the current administratio's policies with some cosmetic changes.

Ager:

Is Obama beginning to fall under the influence of the same military-petroleum complex that guided Bush's imperial-minded presidency?

Could Pakistan become a disaster for the Democrats as Iraq was for Republicans?

David Britt:

A fair assessment of the two, with two major exceptions:
- - Sen. Obama got himself locked into a rigid timetable for departure from Iraq. He could have capped his correct assessment of the war without a prrecise date, yet pushed himself there to win the party base. That's pandering, not realism.

- - Sen. McCain left idealism behind with his obsession with "victory" in Iraq - - a term that he leaves undefined (because it can't be related to anything about the Iraq war beyond the simplicity that enough boots keeps the violence down until we leave). It is an empty political slogan, not idealism.

Brandon:

Fantastic article Fareed,
I am American/Iranian, and I do belive that Iran is after the Bomb.
What is more important is that Obama should realize that the issue is;
It’s Iran stupid.
So, the question is whether he want to deal with it;
Before or After the Bomb.
Snellville GA.

Rich Rosenthal:

A temperment advantage, optimism over pessimism, is what America needs. It will allow us to escape the nihilism of our current fossil fuel based thinking and the paralysis of fear that we have been sold.
As an engineer I see a golden era in the post oil techno-society. We just need a symbolic agent of change to break the impasse.

Richard Brady:

Mr. Obama ceases to be disingenuous and naive only when he focuses on fulfilling his own ambition. The old media carries his water because the blood flow to their brains has been disrupted by the thrill going up and down the leg when Obama reads his scripts.
Obama's position on Iraq is a muddled hash of non-sequiturs. That nation is a "distraction", yet al Qaeda's defeat there is resonating throughout the Arab street. Yet, Obama has shown that getting out quickly has been his only policy.
When asked what the United States would do if anarchy, chaos, and genocide erupted after our "redeployment", the Community Organizer declared that we "could go back in". Why re-enter a "distraction"? And couldn't one of his THREE HUNDRED foreign policy advisors have informed Barry that a military battle group can not just pull out of a theater of operations and then drop back in at the whim of a President who envisions the operation as something akin to doubling back to the pizzeria to pick up a couple of pies?
Mr. Obama fancies the fight against Islamofascism as a matter for the cops. This is just a re-packaging of the stale Democratic brand of the Nineties, a time when bin Laden was the only certified realist on the world stage.

Jeff Crocket:

"paint a picture of a liberal dreamer who wishes away the world's dangers."

Clinton, and Carter, and Gore also come to mind when I read Fareed today.

FDR had to be poked in the eye before he got some anger up in 1942, Clinton had better things to do, and Carter was speechless with Iran. Bush got poked in the eye, and responded in kind! Obama is simply following the play book of democrats - Can't we all just get along. Sad but true, passive doesn't work!!

If you know an example of passive working Fareed, please give us a clue! Sad but true.

Lawrence Oswald:

Mr. Zakaria makes one big assumption. That the reader, the voter and the politicos are rational intelligent people. He assumes that we all must THINK, that we have minds and that we can see beyond whatever walls exist in our minds. Thank you.

My opinion is that both Clinton and Obama (and Biden) have world views with depth and breadth. The idea that leaders of other countries have to juggle many different internal and external, short term and long term factors that position them somewhere between "with us or against us" is a revelation.

There is a chance, maybe small, that Obama will be a fantastic world leader. Maybe, after Obama performs all the disappointing dance steps in the electoral cha cha cha, that his political X-ray vision will lead us and the world to a better place. Obama (and Zakaria) observe better than most Americans and most American politicians. Of course maybe I am wrong and Obama will be just another one of the hacks that now inhabit the beltway.

steve in Philadelphia:

Poster Dwight calls Obama a fool. It has been said that lunacy is characterized by continuing to repeat the same acts that keep leading to disaster while expecting a favorable outcome. John McCain, who is still, in a sense, fighting the Vietnam War, wants to keep on repeating the same acts that Dubya has done, thinking that THIS time it will lead to something good instead of to more disaster.

No candidate can guarantee to get everything right in terms of foreign or domestic policy. But McCain, who still thinks that fanaticism can be bombed out of existence, is essentially guaranteeing to get everything wrong.

Benigno:

"Optimistic Realist"? or "Realistic Optimist", either way you phrase it, the way YOU describe Senator Obama's world view is still naive. Come on Fareed, please don't think we are so impressed with your (and Obama's) delivery that we can't identify mediocrity when we see it. And as far as foreign policy is concerned, I think it's time the rest of the world try to deal and cope with America's model...or would you rather have the Pakistan model, or the Iranian model, or the Syrian model, or the Palestinian Hezbolah model. Obama may not be naive, but his intelligence can certainly be questioned, can it not?

Compassionate AMERICAN-Hispanic Conservative

James Tewes:

The differece between the two is more than teperament, it is also intellect. McCain is not all that smart, and although Republicans seem to believe it is not an important quality in a President, they are obviously wrong.

Michael:

Great column Fareed, you try to look at this situation in a fair and realistic way, which I believe Obama is also doing. Dwight writes that "Obama is a fool" He probably likes bush and cheney and his comment shows his ignorance and lack of writing skills.
This administration is full of intellectual pygmies and the sooner they are gone the better. Bush believes that Armageddon is just around the corner and that he has helped it come sooner, what an idiot to believe that we can have any effect on such spiritual matters.
Obama is by far the better candidate in this race, he's not perfect, no one is, but unlike bush he will learn as he goes.
bush and cheney should be tried for treason

Ben Treistman:

AS one who has admired you for much of your writings within the last five years or so, your realistic assessment of Barack Obama must be commended. Obama fits a mold that is difficult to maintain as he shows himself to be a practical idealist but yet one who is a realist. He is far more to be trusted than the conservative ideologue, John McCain, who is prepared to cater to all conservatives no matter how extreme they may be.
At the same time, I want to commend you for your new TV program, one that you richly deserve.

Tom Law:

Mr Zakaria shares a common trait with Sen Obama - -common sense. Both should give each of us hope. That's all we can ask for at this point.

I am convinced that Sen McCain, my favorite when he lst ran for the Presidency, will make George Bush and his administration look good.

While I am enjoying being 79, I believe the younger people need to be setting the stage that they are going to be living in.

Dwight:

in other words, obama is a fool...

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.