LINK: I like Michael Walzer, as I assume most political theorists do--certainly as I assume all the political theorists working on just war do (he is the cuddly edge of political philosophy in that way), though I will say that the more I work on him, the more I come to believe that his clever-seeming difference-splitting opinions actually do not split any differences at all: they just attempt to take both sides of any argument. But his innovations and contributions are real.

With that as background, his article "Ten Foreign Policy Changes if Obama Is Elected President" is disappointing: it's peppered with the language of assertion, for example:

2) A new position on global warming and the Kyoto Protocols, maybe with Al Gore leading the charge.

That would be it. No supporting argumentation; no reference to the problems Kyoto had when Clinton tried to pass it; no reference to the difficulties others states who signed the treaty have had meeting their targets.

Most of the provisions are heavily qualified--"I think" or a close variation is used frequently. And sometimes (often, actually, in such a short piece) the changes appear to be non-existent:

3) An indication that we might be willing to join the International Criminal Court, though still with reservations to protect American soldiers from what are called “political” prosecutions. I don’t think that Obama will take on the Pentagon for the sake of membership in the ICC. Remember Clinton also would have joined except for opposition from the military establishment.

So, Obama might be willing to think about joining the ICC (Bush is not), and then only in a very qualified way (if soldiers can't be prosecuted, U.S. membership is functionally worthless), but won't be willing to go through the political fight necessary to get the U.S. to join. In other words, the likely outcome of an Obama administration is what we have right now. This is also, to understate, a very generous interpretation of Clinton's position on the ICC when he was president.

It's not clear to me that this is really about Obama at all, rather, it's an assertion that Michael Walzer would be happier with foreign policy if Obama were president, which is fine, but the article is not as objective as he wants to make it out to be.

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