Unlike so many of the blustering Know Nothings trying to become the Republican nominee for president, Clinton and Kagan know a tremendous amount about the world. Clinton, in particular, sounds comfortable talking in granular detail about the intricacies of international affairs, and her confident grasp of the complexities of the Greater Middle East far outstrips what any of the GOP candidates are capable of.
But then he comes back with this:
Yet Clinton’s speech and Kagan’s essay manage to inspire very little confidence. Both are deeply mired in a delusion that began to spread through the American foreign policy establishment at the end of the Cold War and has risen to complete dominance since 9/11. This is the delusion that the United States can and should act as the world’s “indispensable nation,” leading not just the “free world” but the entire world, using “smart power” to get numerous powerful, independent nations to do exactly what we think must be done to enforce global order as we conceive it.
Foreign policy is the perennial disappointment of the United States. For all the knowledge that our “knowledge classes” have, and how much superior they are than the provincial yokels of That Other Party, the solutions they come up with are at best no better. There’s something in the water–or the culture–that, for the education and travel we have regaled our ruling elites with, they’re still provincial boobies at heart.
I suppose that you can be a great American or you can be an expert in foreign policy, but you can’t be both.