CNN's Zakaria: Obama Foreign Policy a 'Bold Gambit,' Hopes It 'Pays Off'

Fareed Zakaria, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgCNN’s Fareed Zakaria gave President Obama’s diplomacy-first foreign policy a ringing endorsement on his program on Sunday, lauding it as a breath of fresh air: “Obama is betting that America has matured, and that we recognize that...without the cooperation of other countries, America cannot be secure at home or prosperous. It’s a bold gambit. Here’s hoping it pays off.”

Zakaria also slammed the Democrat’s critics on the right, hinting that conservatives were out of touch: “Obama’s talk at the U.N. was well received all over the world, except in the right-wing stratosphere in the United States. There, he was accused of selling out America, mounting a coup against the country, siding with dictators, and wishing America would perish. If you heard or read the speech, you would be hard pressed to find a single word that Obama said that fits these descriptions. But that is the nature of political attacks in America these days. They are totally divorced from reality.”

The CNN anchor led his program with this commentary about the President’s speech at the United Nations, which served as a preview of sorts of his Monday column in the Washington Post. Zakaria expounded on his critique of conservatives in the column. Instead of placing them in the “stratosphere,” he located them in a completely opposite (and much more negative) realm.

At his United Nations debut, Barack Obama urged global cooperation to combat nuclear proliferation, climate change and other problems that go beyond the borders of any one country. The speech was well received around the world, except in one place -- America’s right-wing netherworld, which quickly began whipping people into a frenzy. For Michelle Malkin, the speech was evidence that Obama was “the great appeaser,” though she went on to say, “From the sound of it, you’d think you were listening to Thomas Jefferson.” (That’s bad?) For Rush Limbaugh, Obama’s speech was “basically a coup against America.” At the National Review’s Web site, a debate -- an entirely serious debate among serious people -- broke out as to whether the speech proved that Obama actually wanted the world’s tyrants to win, in the tradition of past intellectuals who admired Mussolini and Hitler. This is the discourse of American conservatism today: Obama is bad because he loves “death panels” and Hitler.

Malkin used that moniker for President Obama during a recent segment on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, but she didn’t use the Jefferson line- Hannity did. The anchor questioned the executive’s commitment to act in support of oppressed people the world over: “Then there were the whoppers that he unloaded [during the U.N. speech] about his eagerness to stand up for human rights around the world. From the sound of it, you would think you were listening to Thomas Jefferson.”

After giving his summary of the President’s speech, the CNN anchor continued that the Democrat’s vision is “an experiment to see if we can find areas of common agreement in the world, and then forge cooperation. It is also an experiment, not just in global politics, but in American politics. Obama is taking a chance that being cooperative with the world- talking to other countries with respect- will not be seen in America as weak.”

Zakaria then lamented what he saw as the state of American foreign policy before the Obama presidency, hinting that conspiracy-minded conservatives were behind it. He contrasted this with the “bold” vision of the President:

ZAKARIA: For 30 years, it has been impossible for any American politician to advocate partnership with the world. That is seen as vaguely communist, or it incites conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg group. Obama is betting that America has matured, and that we recognize that in today’s world, without the cooperation of other countries, America cannot be secure at home or prosperous. It’s a bold gambit. Here’s hoping it pays off.

The anchor worded it this way in his Washington Post column: “Obama is gambling that America is mature enough to understand that machismo is not foreign policy and that grandstanding on the global stage won’t succeed. In a new world, with other countries more powerful and confident, America’s success -- its security, its prosperity -- depends on working with others. It’s a big, bold gambit. I hope it works.”

Zakaria seems to be returning to his default position about President Obama as the “hope of the future,” after earlier this year commenting that the Democrat was “failing in his role as leader of the free world.”

The transcript of the relevant portion of the segment, which led the 1 pm Eastern hour of Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS program:

FAREED ZAKARIA: Obama’s talk at the U.N. was well received all over the world, except in the right-wing stratosphere in the United States. There, he was accused of selling out America, mounting a coup against the country, siding with dictators, and wishing America would perish. If you heard or read the speech, you would be hard pressed to find a single word that Obama said that fits these descriptions. But that is the nature of political attacks in America these days. They are totally divorced from reality.

Obama is certainly trying to strike a new path, telling the world that the United States is willing to cooperate, join international institutions, abide by treaties it has signed- pay its dues. But in return, he has repeatedly and specifically asked that countries now must do their part to deal with outstanding problems. It’s an experiment to see if we can find areas of common agreement in the world, and then forge cooperation. It is also an experiment, not just in global politics, but in American politics. Obama is taking a chance that being cooperative with the world- talking to other countries with respect- will not be seen in America as weak.

For 30 years, it has been impossible for any American politician to advocate partnership with the world. That is seen as vaguely communist, or it incites conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg group. Obama is betting that America has matured, and that we recognize that in today’s world, without the cooperation of other countries, America cannot be secure at home or prosperous. It’s a bold gambit. Here’s hoping it pays off.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center