The fall of the Qaddafi regime may be welcome new to President Obama, removing a potential stumbling block from a path already strewn with plenty of difficult stones to overcome. But, it is doubtful that the happy news from Tripoli will provide him with much of a bounce. Why is this?
One of the most jarring intellectual exercises you can undertake is to read or listen to John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. Almost the entire speech was dedicated to the subject of foreign policy. Back then, of course, foreign policy was more or less a subject that garnered bipartisan agreement. Statesmen understood the need to end political debates “at the water’s edge” and present a united front to the world. That had been the case since the great Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg saw the need to work with President Harry S. Truman in crafting the post-war policies that were essentially followed by every American president until the collapse of communism. There actually was a broad consensus within the foreign policy establishment of both political parties.