A single question in the Las Vegas Democratic Presidential Debate exhibited everything that you need to know about the contemporary American media. Wolf Blitzer, CNN moderator, asked each candidate to choose a priority between human rights and national security.
Blitzer didn't want to be troubled by analysis. He wanted an answer as simple as the thought process that developed the question. It must be nice to live in a world without nuance. There must comfort in choosing policy without the burden of history or experience.
Barack Obama responded with the only answer that was fully appropriate. It's a false choice. National security and respecting human rights are not conflicting objectives.
It doesn't take a deep understanding of American foreign policy to know that he's right. Batista, Noriega, Samosa, Marcos, and The Shah are all products of this same alleged contradiction. American administrations befriended authoritarian regimes because they had value in opposing common enemies.
Dictators eventually fall under the weight of their accumulated abuses and those who supported them are held accountable. The world knows that we support freedom for ourselves but when we ally ourselves with despots and dictators we signal that other peoples liberties are less valuable.
The United States has paid a terrible price for building a foreign policy on personal relationships with leaders instead of respect for institutions and the aspirations of peoples. It's a good short term plan is you don't need a long term policy. The interests of the United States are perpetual.
Presidential debates should inspire and inform. Reporters without historic reference only contribute to the dumbing down of the national debate.