By Peter Beinart
This commentary was published in The Daily Beast on 20/05/2011
Can we now, after the president’s Thursday Mideast speech, finally stop calling Barack Obama a “realist?” Please. Ever since he emerged on the national stage more than three years ago, commentators have been claiming that Obama—unlike George W. Bush—places national interest, not human freedom, at the heart of his foreign policy. That narrative began with a wild misreading of Bush, the president who deepened America’s ties to a bevy of oil-rich tyrannies, especially in Africa; bear-hugged Pakistan’s military ruler Pervez Musharraf; conducted business as usual with China; encouraged Fatah strongmen to try to militarily topple the Hamas government Palestinians elected in 2006; welched on U.S. commitments to build a functioning democracy in Afghanistan and, oh yes, oversaw the torture of terror suspects on at least three continents.