Yes, Bob Kagan does have some thick glasses on in reading Obama's foreign policy speech. A reader spots a few twists:
Kagan seems to be playing fast and loose with Obama's speech - trying to reshape it into a Kaganesque world view. For example, take this paragraph from Kagan:
Obama talks about "rogue nations," "hostile dictators," "muscular alliances" and maintaining "a strong nuclear deterrent." He talks about how we need to "seize" the "American moment." We must "begin the world anew." This is realism? This is a left-liberal foreign policy?
But Obama's reference to rogue nations and muscular alliance is immediately coupled with the assurance that "we must use effective diplomacy" - something Kagan of course leaves out. The "strong nuclear deterrent" phrase is actually from this line:
"We can maintain a strong nuclear deterrent to protect our security without rushing to produce a new generation of warheads."
So, from Obama's promise of "no new nukes," Kagan finds more militarism. And the "seizing the moment" and "world anew" bits are from Obama's final story about hope in America told through the story of his father's acceptance to an American university - hardly a story suggesting a penchant for armed conflict.
Rather than being simply impressed with Obama, my guess is that Kagan is actually trying to redefine him to his own liking. Indeed, he's taking the speech and pushing it through his own neocon prism.
Ya think? Obama, however, will be hard to characterize as a classic lefty in foreign policy, which may be enough to appease a chastened neocon like Kagan. Obama wants to redeploy out of Iraq - but he understands we cannot walk away from global engagement with Islamist terror as a whole. That's the reed to which Kagan is clinging. It doesn't make Obama a neocon. But it doesn't make him Jimmy Carter either.