Barack The Hawk

Ross makes a prediction:

On an awful lot of issues, the Obama foreign policy will end cutting to the right of Bill Clinton's foreign policy, which was already more center-left than left.

Even with the GOP brand in the toilet, Republicans are still trusted as much or more than Dems on foreign policy, mostly for somewhat nebulous "toughness" reasons. So why give the Right a chance to play what's just about its only winning card, when you can satisfy your base with a phased withdrawal from Iraq that's scheduled to happen anyway while waxing hawkish on Pakistan, Afghanistan ... and who knows, maybe Iran as well? (I have a sneaking suspicion that a President Obama will be slightly more likely to authorize airstrikes against Iran than a President McCain would have been.) Meanwhile, on detainee policy, wiretapping, etc. you can earn plaudits from liberals for showily abandoning the worst excesses of the Bush era, while actually holding on to most of the post-9/11 powers that the Bushies claimed. Obama already made fans of Niall Ferguson and Eli Lake; by 2012, I wouldn't be surprised if he's converted Max Boot as well.

Ross is not wrong, but the "left-right" rubric is dated, it seems to me, especially in foreign policy, where any return to realism after Bush means, on the old compass, a hefty shift to the right. And that toughness schtick? Too right it's nebulous. What Obama offers is a soft-power-hard-power mix that is also more lethal against the enemies we still face every day. I think we can all hope for the best in that, without labeling it.