Here is a recent video of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews offering a point of view that, in my opinion, is so beyond the pale that there is virtually no conclusion to draw except that he is a complete moron when it comes to foreign policy.
If I can be blunt, Matthews is wrong on two counts. The first is that foreign policy SHOULD BE transactional. The classically American error in foreign policy is to designate people friends or enemies and heap carrots on our friends and sticks on our enemies. Real foreign policy applies carrots and sticks to both friends and enemies, it incentivizes other actors to behave in a way that comports with our interests. In fact, the very idea of friends and enemies, in a foreign policy context, is pretty much circumstantial– our friends are those with whom we share interests, and our enemies are those with whom we have conflicting interests, and everything else is of second order importance.
Secondly, consider the man that Matthews believes we owe an allegiance to; Hosni Mubarak is a strongman who has ruled his country with an iron fist for three decades. Our relationship with him is transactional in virtually every regard– certainly Mubarak has seen his relationship with us as transactional. Does Matthews seriously believe we owe our friendship more to Mubarak than the Egyptian people? This man’s only redeeming quality to us has been his position as the dictator of a country.
How does Matthews even conceive of international relations? I can’t think of a single major world view that can come up with this collection of views he seems to hold. Neocons, even if they weren’t rabid pro-democracy types (and a cynic might claim they aren’t), are foreign policy realists and don’t attach sentiment to folk like Mubarak. Liberal types might buy the relationship part, but are definitely too pro-democratic and human rights oriented to think that Mubarak gets access to this tier of friendship. Paleocons abhor the idea of entanglement with a man such as Mubarak.