Mario Loyola has a lot of interesting things to say:
I'll sum in up in two points.
First, the perception about the Bush administration on foreign policy is wrong, especially with regards to Iran. We did not act unilaterally, but rather used as our principle that we would act together with and according to the desires of our "allies," including China and Russia. After the 2001 State of the Union address, when President Bush characterized Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil," there weren't many instances of calling out Iran. In fact, we had many diplomatic meetings with Iran, gaining us nothing. This totally contradicts the perception of the cowboy Bush unilaterally making demands and threatening enemies. It's just false. That is a totally incorrect characterization of the State Department under Bush. Yet, somehow, it is an article of faith for the left.
Second, the policy of the new administration's foreign policy people is extremely mistaken and also backward. They claim they just want to "try diplomacy" and see if that works first, but they aren't unwilling to use military solutions if it comes to that. First this presumes that the Bush administration didn't use diplomacy with Iran, which is totally false. They used diplomacy to no effect, instead of say, fomenting and supporting the Iranian dissident movement. Second, they miss the point of the military. One uses the military to gain concessions and a diplomatic advantage. Diplomacy doesn't work by appealing to universal humanity and post-nationalistic brotherhood, especially not with countries like Iran. One negotiates from a position of power, or one will lose. By putting the cart before the horse (diplomacy before military strategy), the Obama administration actually increases the chance of a Iranian aggression, a preemptive U.S. military strike, and staggering loss of innocent civilian life.
This is what the left doesn't understand about foreign policy and diplomacy. They think we should be a friendly, compliant face for the world, not aggressive, not belligerent, but openhearted and friendly. Once our 'enemies' see that we are not threatening, they will make peace with us and we can live together in harmony. This is bullshit. In fact, it's the opposite. By being weak, we encourage our enemies to act boldly and aggressively, increasing the chance for large-scale conflict. Whereas, if we had been strong before, and acted from a position of power before, we could have prevented a large-scale conflict.
This is the lesson of modern history. This is the lesson of Neville Chamberlain, who made concessions to Hitler and then came back triumphant, declaring that he had achieved "peace in our time." All he did was give time to Hitler to increase the size and scope of the conflict that would soon envelop the entire Western world. Had England and other European powers acted from a position of strength in opposing Nazi Germany's aggressive expansionism, World War II would not have happened.
The horse is military power, technological advantage and moral superiority. The cart is diplomacy. Like almost everything else, liberals have this backwards.