A Washington Times editorial makes the case that Obama administration foreign policy is the worst foreign policy ever. It’s an impressive indictment, and I happen to agree with it. Making the necessary changes, American foreign policy in the Age of Obama is what it would be if Alger Hiss or Advise and Consent‘s Robert Leffingwell were president. Michael Barone appropriately finds Obama caught in a time warp.
Stephen Hayes recites the Obama administration’s repeated capitulations to Iran in “Obama caves to Iran.” That’s a lot of bowing and scraping to a remarkably unsavory regime over a period of only eight months. Consider also John Bolton’s “Erring on the side of incaution.”
Attention must also be paid to Obama’s star turn at the United Nations this week. “With so many opportunities for a handshake and a big hug with authoritarian leaders,” Bolton writes elsewhere, “so many compromises and concessions to make and so much adulation to receive, it will be a busy time for the President.” Nile Gardiner adds that “the president is perfectly happy to undermine America’s allies and gut its strategic defences while currying favour with enemies and strategic competitors.”
The Washington Times editorial reserves one count of its indictment for a catalogue of Obama’s embarrassing moments on the world stage:
[A] list which includes: giving England’s Queen Elizabeth II an iPod with his speeches on it; giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a collection of DVDs that were not formatted to the European standard (by contrast, Mr. Brown gave Mr. Obama an ornamental desk-pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, among other historically significant gifts); calling “Austrian” a language; bowing to the Saudi king; releasing a photo of a conference call with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the president was showing the soles of his shoes to the camera (an Arab insult); saying “let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s”; saying the United States was “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world”; suggesting Arabic translators be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan where Arabic is not a native language; sending a letter to French President Jacques Chirac when Nicolas Sarkozy was the president of France; holding a town-hall meeting in France and not calling on a single French citizen; and referring to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when he meant Cinco de Mayo. Also of note was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton giving Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a “reset” button with the Russian word for “overcharge.”
The Times’s list does not distinguish Obama’s pratfalls from what Professor Rahe has identified as “Obama’s gestures.” It is nevertheless an impressive list deserving of serious consideration among the other counts of the Times’s impressive indictment.
PAUL adds: Worst foreign policy ever? President Obama may soon belong in the conversation, to use that awful sports talk cliche, but “worst ever” covers a lot of territory.
When leftists started calling President Bush the worst president ever, I was struck by their failure actually to compare Bush’s record to any meaningful degree with the records of really bad presidents. If we were to compare Obama’s foreign policy record with President Carter’s I think most of us would conclude that, while Obama is off to a flying start, he still has some catching up to do.
I’ve read some interesting comparisons between Obama’s first months and the early days of President Kennedy. JFK was well on his way to “worst ever” status in foreign policy — Bay of Pigs, Vienna — but later rallied to some extent.
I don’t expect Obama to rally. Kennedy’s problems stemmed largely from inexperience, I think. Obama’s stem from a combination of inexperience, arrogance, and misguided ideology. He’ll outgrow the first problem, but not the other two.