Here’s a truism about foreign policy:

Most of the time, it’s regarded by the general electorate as a “luxury” topic, something they care about and pay attention to only if everything else in their life is going along reasonably well.


If your job is secure (assuming you’re even employed!), you make decent money, you can pay your family’s expenses, your kids/parents/family are pretty healthy, the car is running reasonably well, your toilet isn’t leaking, hamburger isn’t $2.62/lb, gas isn’t $4.12/gal, your kid’s elementary school isn’t having an “alternative lifestyle” field trip, and the Red Sox aren’t in last place, then–and only then–do most people pay any real attention to “foreign affairs.”

Even then, it’s regarded by most as a theoretical interest, something without actual moment-to-moment impact in their lives. When they do pay attention, it’s only for feel-good reasons, to take satisfaction in seeing our “image” abroad being raised (or lowered, depending on your proclivities), to enjoy or not seeing a foreign country or people or leader or uprising being defeated or affirmed, etc.

The real link in people’s minds between what we do or how we act in relation to overseas happenings and how they might affect domestic developments is lost on most people.

(The big exception to all of this is when we commit American military personnel to battle. Then everyone has an opinion.)

But demonstrations in the streets of Cairo? They’re simply not relevant to most people and our President’s actions are viewed academically, if at all.

All that being said–and true, no doubt–why does President Obama have the foreign policy outlook he has? Why does he seem to regard his own country not as the singularly-important motivator of international circumstances, but rather as just another player in the international cast?

Arguably and plausibly since 1918, we’re had the starring role in the world’s play. Top billing. And yes, many jealous understudies resent our status. But that’s been our role, nonetheless.

Why is Obama seemingly relinquishing that role? (One of his own advisers describes Obama’s actions as “Leading from behind.”) He doesn’t like the “pressure” of the top spot? He feels “guilty” that it’s ours? He has such an altruistic, idealistic kumbaya vision of the world that that’s the direction towards which he wants everything to move?

There could be some truth to any or all of those possibilities.

There is also something amazingly simple to consider when trying to ascertain Obama’s worldview and philosophy:

Not only has he never truly been in the private sector, clawing his way up the competitive, dog-eat-dog career ladder like the rest of us, not only has his “community organizer” (Anyone: accurately define that position in 10 words or less. Can’t be done. I’ll give you 20. Bet you still can’t.) background been paved with Gov’t money and guaranteed attention, not only has his status as an intelligent, well-educated minority afforded him a certain level of automatic acceptance in liberal educational, social, and political circles, but consider this point as well–

Obama is our first president whose background and growing-up mindset and emotional environment did not involve either a World War, military service, or the Cold War (and the threat/struggle of competing nuclear nations).

President Obama is 49. When Reagan was elected in 1980, Obama was 19, a universe away, mentally, from even thinking about Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam war, the “Domino Effect,” fallout shelters, the draft, or anything else that affected the U.S. on such a fundamental level during the years from 1918-1980.

He’s the first President to grow up totally independent of these influences, he’s very young as Presidents go, and he’s the first one to have not been shaped by these experiences to anywhere near the degree that we were, if he was shaped at all.

Add to that his non-participation in (and therefore his non-first-hand awareness of) the “real” work world, and you have an individual who just doesn’t approach world developments/events from the same mental stance as our past presidents, whether Democratic or Republican.

This doesn’t mean that Obama is “evil.” He’s not.

It doesn’t mean he’s “out to sabotage the country.” He’s not.

This is simply an analysis and explanation of why he looks at things the way he does, and why his governing aims are so seemingly incomprehensible to so many people. He is a strikingly–shockingly–different individual than most older Americans, in a way that past presidents were nowhere near as different from their constituents, regardless of their respective ages.