Obama the realist?

J.DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images Fareed Zakaria sat down with Barack Obama Sunday, and this is how the candidate styled himself on foreign policy: One of the things that I want to do, if I have the honor of being president, is to try to bring back the kind of foreign policy that characterized the Truman administration ...

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J.DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images

Fareed Zakaria sat down with Barack Obama Sunday, and this is how the candidate styled himself on foreign policy:

One of the things that I want to do, if I have the honor of being president, is to try to bring back the kind of foreign policy that characterized the Truman administration with Marshall and Acheson and Kennan.

J.DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images

Fareed Zakaria sat down with Barack Obama Sunday, and this is how the candidate styled himself on foreign policy:

One of the things that I want to do, if I have the honor of being president, is to try to bring back the kind of foreign policy that characterized the Truman administration with Marshall and Acheson and Kennan.

OK, that doesn’t tell us anything so far. George W. Bush also sees himself as Truman’s heir. All sides of the U.S. political spectrum have tried to appropriate different aspects of the Truman legacy. But then Obama went on:

But also characterized to a large degree — the first President Bush — with people like Scowcroft and Powell and Baker, who I think had a fairly clear-eyed view of how the world works, and recognized that it is always in our interests to engage, to listen, to build alliances — to understand what our interests are, and to be fierce in protecting those interests, but to make sure that we understand it’s very difficult for us to, as powerful as we are, to deal all these issues by ourselves.

It’ll be interesting to watch how people react to this, especially as Obama heads to Israel later this week next week.

I, for one, admire the pragmatism of Brent Scowcroft and James Baker. But these are curious role models to cite for a man prone to such soaring rhetoric. Moreover, some folks on the right-hand side of Israeli politics find the two realists par excellence, who under the first President Bush advised meaningful pressure on the Israeli government to stop its settlement activity, not to their liking. Liberal hawks, meanwhile, see them as too bloodless, their realism too narrow.

Readers, what do you think?

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

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