Obama's solipsism produces cognitive dissonance

By |
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Michael Barone,Barack Obama,Iran,Russia,Vladimir Putin,MinusRelatedPhoto,Ukraine,Crimea

Cognitive dissonance is a phrase that describes what happens when the world turns out to operate differently from what you expected. It's also a phrase that could be used to describe the state of mind of some of President Obama's current and past foreign policy advisers, at least according to this David Sanger story in the New York Times. Excerpts:

The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin's decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China's increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands. Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea's stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. ...

"We’re seeing the 'light footprint' run out of gas," said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss. ...

Still, some senior officials who left the White House after the first term concede -- when assured of anonymity -- that Mr. Obama erred in failing to have a plan to back up his declaration that [Syrian] President Bashar al-Assad had to leave office.

Obama's central mistake, as I tried to argue in this recent Washington Examiner column, is solipsism, to “assume others see the world as you do and will behave as you would.” It would be nice if Putin, Assad and the Chinese leaders saw the world as Obama does and behaved as he would, but unfortunately they don't.

View article comments Leave a comment

Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner