A fundamental tenet of the liberal approach to foreign policy has been that the attitudes of other countries are not shaped by their own beliefs and motivations, but rather purely as reactions to good or bad diplomacy.
When Hillary Clinton came bearing a "Reset Button" for Russia, she projected that same delusional belief that history has a reset button and that the expansionism of aggressive nations and ideologies can be put away with the right word. But of course history has no reset button and those who want Lebensraum will only be emboldened by an America all too eager to showcase its weakness.
Obama's Cairo speech similarly went long on flattery toward Muslim egos and short on leverage. In return he received the same kind of slap from Iran, that North Korea had been ladling out to the Clinton Administration. The rigged election and the brutal suppression of dissidents in Tehran's streets was a bloody demonstration that nations like Iran are driven by ideological and political goals that will not be set aside with a kind word or a diplomatic reset button.
For liberals to cope with Obama's utter failure on the diplomatic front, they must disabuse themselves of their long cherished idea, that all of America's global problems stem from George W. Bush's militarism or conservatism. Nor is the Islamic Jihad that expresses itself in the form of terrorism a knee jerk reflex reaction to American foreign policy. Rather it is the fundamental expression of over a 1000 years of Muslim history and belief, as embedded in the Koran.
A liberal view of foreign policy that insists on treating terrorism as an Islamic reaction to a Western provocation, repeats Chamberlain's folly of perceiving Hitler's expansionism as purely a reaction to the injustices of WW1 that would go away once properly appeased.
When diplomats insist that the Middle East can be stabilized by rolling Israel back to before the 1967 war, they repeat Chamberlain's folly in believing that history has a reset button, and that giving totalitarian states back some of their pride by giving them back more territory, even if it has to be carved out of an independent and prosperous nation like Czechoslovakia or Israel, will stabilize the region.
But history has no reset button, and the Middle East can no more be stabilized by carving up Israel, than Muslim expansionism and aggression toward the West can be put away in a box with some of Obama's well chosen flattery. Islamic expansionism and hostility toward the West did not begin in 1948 or 1919. It is a very old Jihad that awaits only the right circumstances in which to catch fire and burn again.
Rather than learning the lessons of history, liberals have found it more convenient to blame them on conservatives, on capitalism and on their own middle class for wanting to be secure and well off. Their pursuit of open handed diplomacy however has only led them to be the weakest players in a zero sum game.
While liberals rejoice because the government has changed in Washington D.C., nothing has changed in the Middle East, where power and wealth fuel political and military goals. History has not gone away because of the 2008 Presidential election. Nor has the world changed. Elections may change American goals and tactics, they do not change the tactics and goals of our enemies, they only mediate them. Obama's victory has served not as a reset button, but as a loud whistle warning everyone in the seamy bar that a pigeon has just walked into the room waiting to be plucked.
There is no reset button for history. Luckily in a democratic country there is one for bad leaders. In 2012, Obama's "historic" victory may itself become history.