The post-ideological pragmatism of blowing people up

Ryan Lizza’s long New Yorker article on President Barack Obama’s evolving foreign policy, which introduced into the political lexicon the memorable phrase “leading from behind,” should be required reading for anyone interested not just in current world affairs, but also in the predictable ways that “realist”-tilting, “post-ideological”-posturing American presidential candidates always end up embracing the “idealism” of military force against micro-Hitlers once in office.

The fact that Lizza utterly fails to see the pattern clearly laid out by Obama’s two predecessors only underlines the point: When President Mitch Daniels, too, enters the White House after having won an upset victory as a pragmatist problem-solver with a humble foreign policy, he will also be confronted with evildoers mowing down (or threatening to mow down) their own citizens live on al-Jazeera and/or CNN. Once the pro-interventionist idealists eventually win that behind-the-scenes bureaucratic struggle, we will see well-reported pieces from the Ryan Lizzas of the world explaining in respectful detail how the president’s abstract foreign policy ideas have responsibly adapted to unforeseen events in this mixed-up, shook-up world.