James Corum is Dean of the Baltic Defense College in Estonia. He has taught in American and British staff colleges and was a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army Reserve. In the Telegraph, he critiques the Obama administration’s latest foreign policy mis-steps:
Last week was a really bad week for nations that are friends and allies of America. Three nations that have long been close friends and allies of America received humiliating treatment from the Obama administration.
The first, of course, was Israel. We have written extensively about that. Corum notes: “Thanks to Obama, we have a nuclear proliferation summit in which Israel, a nuclear power, is pushed away – but where Liberia shows up.” The other instances of administration perversity have received less publicity. First, Poland:
It is hard to imagine how Poland’s treatment by Obama could have been worse. It was a week of shock and grief for the Poles – a close NATO ally that has sent large forces to fight alongside America in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama used the Iceland eruption as an excuse to cancel his trip to the funeral of Poland’s president and top leaders killed in the air crash. But those of us who live in Eastern Europe know that Cracow Airport was open and Obama could have flown in there. A president who respected true friends and sacrifices in blood would have made a serious gesture. Not Obama – he took off to play golf and did not bother to take a few minutes to sign the consolation book at the Polish Embassy on the way to the course.
Finally, the US Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, insulted America’s closest ally in Central America by called the Honduran Congress’ removal of President Zelaya last year a “coup d’etat.” (Llorens’ letter to Wall Street Journal, April 14). Now Honduras is a genuine democracy and the removal of Zelaya was done lawfully and with the support of the majority of the Honduran Congress. The removal was no coup – it was an appropriate act to stop an out of control president who tried to overthrow the constitution by grabbing an illegal second term. America should thank the Honduran Congress for preventing an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez from turning Honduras into a Venezuela-light dictatorship.
Corum’s judgment on President Obama is harsh:
Alienating three close allies in one week is quite a trick, even for a president as inept in foreign policy as Barack Obama. However, it fits a pattern. President Obama has never shown any understanding for the basic rules of foreign policy which include cultivating allies, avoiding unnecessary friction, and doing one’s homework. These things happen because Obama is fundamentally uninterested in foreign policy.
I think that’s right, but it’s actually a bit worse than that. Not only is Obama mostly uninterested in foreign policy, but his instincts are bad because at bottom, he doesn’t believe in advancing America’s interests. Moreover, perhaps because of his own jaundiced view of American history, he seems to be instinctively contemptuous of people and nations that are pro-American. The results of Obama’s foreign policy are therefore worse than could be obtained through sheer laziness or disinterest.
PAUL adds: Max Boot adds Japan, which I’ve also mentioned in this connection, to the list.