Edward Luce reviews two books on Foreign Policy, at the Financial Times, and evaluates President Obama’s ‘retrenchment overseas’ and ‘domestic renewal’

In his essay, titled The pivot to America,  in the form of a review of two books: The Obama Doctrine: America’s Grand Strategy Today by Colin Dueck and Super Power: Three Choices for  America’s Role in the World by Ian Bremmer, Mr. Luce departs from his usual procedure of using Republican rhetoric that he has moderated/reshaped for the respectable bourgeois readers of the F.T.  Dueck is an assistant professor at George Mason University and so his audience  is mostly academic, while Bremmer is a peddler of his expertise as president of the Eurasia Group a ‘global risk consultancy’. To take the measure of Mr. Bremmer’s book Luce offers these thumb-nailed choices: Independent America, Moneyball America and Indispensable American.This sort of commentary has it’s place on ESPN.Perhaps that is the audience Mr. Bremmer is courting? Good public relations is the key to sales success!

Luce posits that  a ‘retrenchment overseas’ has gone too far, as Obama has focused on ‘domestic renewal’. No empirical evidence for these two assertion is offered, as they are an even more subtle instance of Mr. Luce’s penchant for Republican/Neo-Conservative re-framing. As observers of the as yet to be congressionally approved war on ISIS , of the Drone Program and the political adventurism of the Ukrainian Coup and the the birth of The New Cold War, with Putin as the New Stalin, not to speak of the classified TPP treaty, this idea of ‘retrenchment overseas’ looks dubious. Perhaps Mr. Luce and his sub rosa allies, the Republicans, will not be satisfied until a war with Iran is a fact, rather than a devout wish!

Of ‘domestic renewal’ I see no evidence! President Obama has ruled as a moderate conservative: the exercise of a timid Neo-Liberalism, in answer to the more robust iterations as exercised by Clinton and Bush II ,and the watershed of that sixteen year reign of the Free Market, in the market collapse of 2008, and the faltering ‘recovery’ as a fact of the last eight years. What ever happened to that article of faith, the self-regulating Market?

What remains absent from the Luce essay is any mention of the president’s favorite ‘philosopher’ Reinhold Niebuhr and his Christian Realism, or the cautionary tale of Obama’s first term, Gordon M. Goldstein’s Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to the War in Vietnam. A ‘philosopher’ and a book are more meaningful that the two books under review, that may offer some insights into Obama. But the question remains what animates Obama in policy terms?  Mr. Luce, true to form, only offers Foreign Policy Chatter.

Political Observer



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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