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What do neocons have to do with Obama?

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During the cold war, this perspective was understandably commonplace, but neocons clung to it dogmatically, even railing against Reagan's overtures to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. From their view, the USSR was evil, end of story. It is this dualistic mindset that led to Bush's designation of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil."

Obama, conversely, does nuance and he does a lot of it. Consider his tactic to reach out to "good" Taliban, militants presumed to be more worried about their salary than global jihad.

A second core feature of the neocon "persuasion" involves a commitment to the military as the ultimate tool of foreign policy. Neocons are skeptical of diplomacy and international institutions. President Bush sent an ambassador to France who did not speak French. And he nominated John Bolton, irascible critic of the idea of the United Nations, as ambassador to the UN.

Obama has staked his foreign policy on a return to American diplomacy, renewing discussions with Iran, Syria, and Russia, and sending Susan Rice, one of his closest advisers, to the UN. But diplomacy doesn't equal pacifism and Obama is no dove, as his Afghanistan troop surge shows.

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