A lot has been written about President Obama’s first 100 days in office.Overall he has received high grades for sincerity. Americans disagree with him on several of his high profile policy decisions but these differences have not impacted on his personal appeal. Clearly Americans want him to succeed.
While most of President Obama’s presidency has been been focused on domestic matters, he has made two high profile trips out of the country, he has made several foreign policy pronouncements, and he has made a dramatic rhetorical shift away from long-time tenets of American foreign policy.On more than one occasion Obama has distanced himself from the position of being America’s chief cheerleader. In Europe he refused to state that America is an “exceptional” country. And in Latin America he did the unthinkable.
At a meeting of Latin American leaders, Obama warmly accepted a greeting and a book (which denounces the United States) from dictator Caesar Chavez of Venezuela.( Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a report on Chavez’s anti-semitism forcing Jews to leave the country.) But the Chavez encounter pales in comparison to Obama’s reaction (or lack thereof) to the anti-American tirade of Nicaraqua’s Marxist dictator, Daniel Ortega. For nearly an hour, Ortega verbally attacked the United States and Obama never came to America’s defense. When given the microphone he flippantly defended himself but not his country.
What are we to make of this?
The evidence is piling up that Obama does not see being an American as being very important.After all he sees nothing exceptional about the United States. On the other hand he does see himself as a citizen of the world — in fact the world’s number one citizen.
Obama appears intent on attempting to bring peace and harmony by turning his back on America’s allies and even America’s self interest. It is no accident that he made his first phone call as President to the head of the Palestinian Authority.It’s by design that he publicly disagreed with France and Germany when he curried favor with Muslim Turkey. He has also used Israel as a whipping boy while bending over backwards to please Israel’s enemies.
If Obama saw Israel as a special friend he would have extended the courtesy of consulting with Israel’s new government before setting his Middle East policy, but he deliberately did not. He, Secretary of State Clinton and Middle East envoy Mitchell have all lectured and cajoled Israel before the President and the new Prime Minster have even met. This is not how friends treat friends.
Along with insisting on following the failed two state track, the Obama Administration has gone out its way to publicly warn Israel that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is a bad idea. The latest deliverer of this message was Secretary of Defense Gates. One might have more confidence if the Obama Administration showed signs of understanding that Iran is an evil force that can not be defeated by engaging in endless conversations. One Jerusalem knows that The State of Israel has asked Obama to put a time limit on any negotiations with Iran. This request has been rebuffed.
One can only speculate what is motivating the Obama Administration to take this weak line with Iran. It seems to be partly driven by a secular ideology that is premised on the notion that all differences can settled by talking. History is littered with examples of how this idea has led to disaster. The most famous example is the United Kingdom talking to Hitler and believing Hitler when he said he had no intention of conquering Europe and the world. Like Hitler, the current rulers of Iran benefit from talking. It gives them time to develop their weapons of mass destruction.
The Obama Administration also appears to suffer from inexperience. In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Ambassador John Bolton desperately tries to get the Obama Administration to take the right actions in Pakistan. He notes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is wrong when she proclaims that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe because it has been dispersed around the country. Bolton lays out a common sense plan to deal with a dangerous situation. Bolton is clearly more in touch with the reality on the ground then the Obama team.
In a few weeks, Israel’s Prime Minister will come to the United States to meet with President Obama. All signs are signaling that on substance there will be a substantial divide between Israel and the United States.Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to start a new track with the Palestinians. He believes that there must be economic and civil reforms in Palestinian territories before there can any lasting political progress. Meanwhile, Obama’s team is lobbying Jewish leaders in America to get them to support the old two state push, even though there is no political entity to deal with on the Palestinian side.
All indicators are pointing toward a contentious set of meetings. Lets pray they are fruitful. By fruitful we mean that Netanyahu convinces Obama that Iran is the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and most be dealt with forcefully.