The ideal president would possess in-depth cultural, geopolitical and geo-economic knowledge and experience. He or she would be someone who could identify a problem or flashpoint on the other side of the world -- preferably even before it became a major issue. He'd understand exactly how it might play out given different scenarios, and how in each case America would be impacted. Such an approach could only feasibly be adopted by a statesman -- a polymath or Renaissance man -- but how many of those exist nowadays in public life? We're light-years away from the era of Churchill, Eisenhower and de Gaulle.
Obama, by contrast, is a community organizer. When a community activist attempts to substitute his own mind-set for that of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for example, in an attempt to ascertain how the Russian sphere of influence might shift in light of emerging economic realities that include a rapprochement of bilateral trade between ideologically complicit Russia and China ... it can only end in unmitigated disaster. The danger lies in what former CIA Directorate of Operations Dick Heuer, an expert on the psychology of intelligence analysis, called a cognitive trap, or mirror-imaging. He warned against projecting models on foreign entities that might be unfeasible and unrealistic given their cultural values, realities and mind-set. A popular revolt in the Arab world isn't, for example, the Civil Rights Movement in America
As long as popularity polls support this kind of outsourcing of international leadership, there will be little impetus for change. And as long as voters are content with setting the bar so low in their selection of presidential contenders -- requiring only that they possess the requisite views on social and ideological issues rather than an ability to operate on the level of a true statesman -- perhaps it really is best for everyone that they don't even try to take matters into their own hands.
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