Who is arrogant?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly views Barack Obama’s position on Iran as as “utterly immature” and comprised of “formulations empty of all content.” Sarkozy is also said to have remarked that it would be “arrogant” for Obama, if he is elected president, to ignore allies like France and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.

As Emanuele Ottolenghi notes, Sarkozy’s use of the term “arrogant” is interesting because Obama’s (utterly immature) critique of U.S. foreign policy relies heavily on the notion that we have been “arrogant” in our dealings with the rest of the world. In fact, the reason Obama has advanced for engaging in talks with a series of anti-American dictatorships, not just Iran, is the need to overcome the perception that we are “arrogant.”

“Arrogance” may be a useful concept for teenagers when they are explaining why they don’t like certain classmates. The real lesson of Sarkozy’s reported comments is how foolish it is to permit this concept to play a serious role in making foreign policy decisions.

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