Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics, UNITED NATIONS — Rick Moran @ 11:42 am

Does the world love us any more with Obama as president?

I’m sure they do - except in places it really, really, really matters like Moscow, Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, and Caracas. The leaders in those capitols probably don’t love Obama anymore than they loved George Bush. The question of whether they respect the US and our power is a whole other question.

It’s easy to get our allies to love us. First, the fact that Obama is not George Bush is no doubt a huge plus. Secondly, anything George Bush did, just do the opposite. Third, acknowledge their superior wisdom with regard to foreign affairs - especially those issues that affect them directly. Fourth, subsume American interests to those of other nations who, after all, are smarter and know what’s best for us. Fifth, confess the error of our ways and promise that we won’t do anything ever to get anyone mad at us.

There’s more: Promise to unilaterally disarm. Acknowledge America’s moral failings for the last 60 years. Deny America is any better or worse than any other nation. Finally, pretend that the United Nations is a place for serious people and that everyone - including the thug nations of the world - should be able to dictate what America should do.

Yes, there are a few exaggerations there. Yes, I had a little fun with our president by trying to highlight what I consider is his completely wrong headed approach to foreign affairs. But within that sneering sophistry is more than a kernel of truth. The question is, what has the president accomplished with his new “smart” foreign policy.

Our allies like Obama. As politicians, they are perfectly aware of his popularity among the majority of their citizens and love to have their picture taken with him, hoping some of his radiance will rub off on them.

But when push comes to shove and Obama has wanted to lead, where has he taken them? Or, have our allies around the world simply gone their own way anyway, despite his eloquent importunings?

No help for our troops in Afghanistan. Failure to convince the Europeans to overstimulate their economies. Bad reactions to Obama’s stances on the war in Georgia, increased NATO membership, Turkey’s bid for EU membership, additional sanctions on Iran, and the clown show that the release of al-Megrahi turned out to be. No go on carbon caps, economic development for Africa, third world debt relief…

Well, you get the picture. It’s great that our allies love us but where has that gotten us? What tangible benefit has accrued to our interests so far that would prove Obama’s approach to foreign policy is superior to anyone’s, much less that of George Bush?

Yes, but at least they’re not marching in protest when the American president comes for a visit. They’re not saying nasty things in newspapers.


Simply put, Barack Obama is loved at the UN because he largely fails to advance real American leadership. This is a dangerous strategy of decline that will weaken US power and make her far more vulnerable to attack.

As we saw last week with his shameful surrender to Moscow over missile defence, the president is perfectly happy to undermine America’s allies and gut its strategic defences while currying favour with enemies and strategic competitors. The missile defence debacle is rightly viewed as a betrayal by the Poles and the Czechs, and Washington has clearly give the impression that it cares little about those who have bravely stood shoulder to shoulder with their US allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider war on terror.

The Obama administration is now overseeing and implementing the biggest decline in American global power since Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately it may well take another generation for the United States to recover.

The author of this piece, Nile Gardiner, is a lonely voice these days. And he’s missing the point. At the moment, we have foreign policy by gesture in the US. If there is a coherence to it, I haven’t spotted it yet. But it sure is dramatic and that’s what’s important to liberals who have been itching for 40 years to give it a try.

It has been and still is the contention of the left that we are the to blame for many of the problems in the world and the way to make progress in dealing with these thorny issues is for America to act humbly, subscribe to international solutions offered by the UN and other supra-national bodies, make friends of our enemies, prove our goodwill by subsuming our national interests when they conflict with another’s, and generally agreeing with the rest of the world about what kind of nation we are.

Obama seems to have decided that this foreign policy by gesture is just the ticket. What have some of those gestures gotten us?

We had the gesture of letters to the closed minded, American hating rulers of Iran (who promptly spit in his face). We had the gesture of his European tour where the president lectured the old world like a hectoring school marm about anti-Americanism (incorrectly attributing it to our actions rather than the simple fact that being a huge country, our interest are very broad and that protecting those interests, by necessity means we step on a lot of toes). We have the gesture of his Cairo speech to Muslims, telling them their religion is wrong to hate infidels. We had the gesture of Hillary’s “reset button” that didn’t work out so well with the Russians. We had the gesture of more outreach to the Iranians that again, was promptly thrown back in our face.

We had the gesture of the grip and grin with Hugo Chavez who just recently asked the Russians to help him develop his nuclear industry. We had the depressing gesture of the president refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Iranian protests as a sop to terrorist supporting thugs who gunned down their own citizens in the streets. And we had the despicable gesture of the US refusing to support the legitimate, constitutional government of Honduras who replaced a clear stooge of Chavez to protect themselves after the stooge illegally tried to hold a referendum that would have made him president for life.

All of these little unilateral gestures and more have been the modus operandi of the Obama foreign policy. Have they made us safer. Are American interests more or less at risk? Are our adversaries more or less likely to advance their own interests at the expense of ours? Just what has Obamalove gotten us?

Is there a pronounced difference in whether the rest of the world is following our lead than when Bush or anyone else was president? Does Obama even want to lead? He seems to want to lead in the Israeli-Palestinian nutcracker but he has alienated 95% of the Israeli population in doing so while picking up precious few brownie points with the Palestinians.

What’s the plan? Where’s the payoff?

Yeah…but it sure is nice to be loved again.


  1. Four-and-a-half years of having the media (news and entertainment) tell you how great you are can produce a bit of a distorted picture of your wonderfulness. Obama seemed to come into the job thinking the only people who didn’t like him were conservative Republicans and nobody in the world likes conservative Republicans, so his job should be a cinch.

    Unfortunately for Barack, he’s got a huge ego matched to a timid nature that balks at doing anything controversial unless he’s got all his special interest groups lined up behind him. And since all those groups are on the left side of the political spectrum, none of them want the U.S. to show any sort of toughness on the world’s stage, because they think if we do that, the world will continue to love us. But for the unelected or the illegally elected leaders, all that does is show the President of the United States is a wimp who can be rolled.

    Like Carter with the Soviets invading Afghanistan over the 1979 Christmas holiday, Obama’s going to have to have something awful happen — and probably happen during the 2012 election cycle — to get him to change his ways, or risk re-election. Though I suppose on the positive side, Obama at least didn’t flagellate his country at the U.N. to the point he promised the other leaders that, once they left New York, he’d do to it what Henry Fonda did at the end of “Fail Safe”.

    Comment by John — 9/23/2009 @ 3:17 pm

  2. I am appalled at the gross and disgusting troll we have placed in the White House. He is ignorant of history, dismissive of the values of the majority of Americans, clueless about constitutional law (all the more egregious considering that he claims to have taught it).He embarrasses our nation on a daily basis and his collection of crooks, hucksters and tax cheats that he calls czars is terrifyingly inept and worthless.

    Do I like our President? Hell to the no. Do I support him? Hell to the no. Do I wish him ill. Emphatically no. Do I wish a light would go on over his head and give him a clue. Yes indeed I do!

    But George Soros has his hand up under the back of our President’s very well tailored jacket and that’s just the cross we need to bear.

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 9/23/2009 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Get help, Gayle.

    If you believe what you wrote, you are seriously detached from reality.

    Comment by HyperIon — 9/23/2009 @ 4:16 pm

  4. I am not so sure that all that many people really like Obama, here or abroad. I think a lot of that is an invention by the same media that got him elected. In truth, I think they are laughing at him.

    Comment by Terrye — 9/23/2009 @ 4:25 pm

  5. The main problem with the Leftist approach to foreign policy has always been their insistence on being “liked” by the other nations of the world. They never seem to learn that it’s far better to be respected rather than liked. It’s as if they’re perpetually stuck in first grade, where they’re trying to get everyone they meet to like them so that we won’t have any enemies, but they don’t figure out that, no matter what this country does, we’re always going to have enemies out there. When this nation is respected–as opposed to “liked”–they may not always agree with us, but they can’t fault us for our belief that doing what’s right is more important that doing what’s popular. But when some liberal comes along trying to make us be “liked,” we always end up having to kiss arse to everyone else so we won’t make them mad, and even then those other governments end up taking advantage of our lack of assertiveness to do whatever they please. Moreover, liberal administrations almost always make things worse by invariably sucking up to the pond-scum regimes of this world, always thinking that somehow being nice to the bullies of humanity will somehow make them behave themselves. They never do, though, do they?

    Comment by Jonathan Martin — 9/23/2009 @ 5:59 pm

  6. Rick,

    You said at the top of your post that you exaggerated a bit. I don’t think “exaggerate” is the correct word. I think that you are distorting Obama’s words and actions, and ignoring the bad things that came from former Pres. Bush’s lack of a “decent respect for the world’s opinion.”

    Almost every line in this post is a distortion, although, as always, you write well and without vitriol.

    Comment by Kathy Kattenburg — 9/23/2009 @ 7:54 pm

  7. Obama, like any freshly-minted Third-World leftist leader, seems to think that all it takes to flip-flop the order of friends and enemies are a few words and a bow or two. The bad news is that we’re not (yet) the Third World, offering a marginal advantage for whichever of the competing “pillars” of the First World we try to woo. We are, for better and worse, the last “pillar” standing.

    Given that the goal of those Obama is wooing is the utter destruction of that “pillar”, it is not surprising that they are laughing while plotting to finish off the “pillar”. Neither is it surprising that those a bit closer to being devoured by some of those entities are dropping off the “friends” list.

    Comment by steveegg — 9/23/2009 @ 8:06 pm

  8. Perhaps Obama is acting the way he is because the Iraq and Afghan wars are not wrapping up, Gitmo is still open, and Congress hasn’t signed on to any of the outstanding treaties that we need to step up to. Considering that he promised the world that all these things would be taken care soon after January 20, he may just be unable to have the moral authority to project our power in any new direction.

    Another possible reason Obama is laying low in the international community is because we’re broke right now, and can’t afford any new overseas adventures. (Don’t forget, all his domestic policy plans can’t be carried out either if we’re spending lots more money outside our borders!)

    Finally, it is possible that Obama is offering other countries to step up to the plate because he knows that they won’t take him up on the offer. And really, no other country (or even groups of countries) has the taxpayers, military, or long term alliances to take our place for at least the next 40 years. Nobody else wants to take upon our international police work anyway, so whatever Obama says won’t actually come to fruition…and we all know it!

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 9/23/2009 @ 8:18 pm

  9. Kathy:

    I fixed the typo in your post.

    “And ignoring the bad things that came from former Pres. Bush’s lack of a “decent respect for the world’s Leftist opinion.”

    Comment by Typos Make the Internet Cry — 9/23/2009 @ 8:30 pm

  10. Just like some of my fellow Democrats didn’t like any thing Bush did, a lot of conservatives don’t like anything Obama does or says. I thought Bush was a fool for going into Iraq, and a fool for how he handled the invasion. As far as Afhganistan no foreign power has ever tamed that country. For all you conservatives dogging Obama, if Bush hadn’t made a mess in Iraq Obama wouldn’t been elected. Bush made the mess in Iraq and created the political climate for Obama to win. You’ve got 3 plus years left with Obama, deal with it.

    Comment by Joe — 9/23/2009 @ 8:48 pm

  11. Joe:

    I had to add a few words to make things clearer.

    “I thought Bush and Clinton were fools for going into Iraq, even though the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 passed unanimously and 70 plus congress members voted in favor of the 2003 invasion.”

    “Bush helped lead the political charge for victory in Iraq and created the political climate for Obama to win.”

    Comment by Typos Make the Internet Cry — 9/23/2009 @ 10:12 pm

  12. The general consensus among people I talked to in China recently is that Obama is a joke, and his election repudiates democracy as a form of government capable of producing competent leaders.

    I’ve always maintained that democracy’s advantage isn’t that it picks good leaders, but provides a way to get rid of bad ones. Even there, Chinese friends point out the numerous entrenched idiots in Congress as counterexamples.

    It’s hard to defend our system these days.

    Comment by Foobarista — 9/23/2009 @ 10:21 pm

  13. The world likes us better now that they can laugh at us with impunity. We have an empty suit for a President and the world sees him for what he is - the embodiment of an immasculated United States. Tinhorn little tyrants like Chavez, Castro, Ghadaffi, and Allonmydinnerjacket are thumbing their collective noses at the US and the response they get from the Obama Administration is nothing more than “Thank You, may I have another?”

    It would be funny except for the piper we are soon going to be asked to pay for our fecklessness. (Look it up!)

    Comment by SShiell — 9/23/2009 @ 10:43 pm

  14. Does the world love China?
    Does the world love Japan?
    Does the world love Germany?
    No, they do business with them.
    Get over your self.
    Get down to business.
    You’ve srewed up the last 8 years.
    Learn from it.

    Comment by Anonymous — 9/23/2009 @ 11:43 pm

  15. As a German I can honestly say that the vast majority of Germans like Obama a lot better than Bush. Sure, there is always a slight undercurrent of Anti-American sentiment present in both the left and the right (for slightly different reasons). The vitriol and nasty comments by the likes of Rumsfeld didn’t exactly go over very well. However, Germany has and will be a reliable ally with a pretty sizable economy and because America was gracious in helping to rebuild Germany after WWII a lot of people longed for the day they could admire the United States again like they did with Kennedy. Remember, the comments when Obama went to Berlin during the campaign and some commentators on the right here were making comparisons to Hitler of all people. That didn’t exactly endear American conservatives to the Germans (and I’m just pointing out facts as a fellow conservative) and was a really stupid comparison. Do perceptions matter? They certainly do. Are people just rational beings that live their lives according to what makes most sense. No! They buy Levi Strauss jeans for an exorbitant price in Europe because of the image, more students might go to an American University for a year etc etc. To make a long story short, a superpower should and cannot impose it’s will by raw power but by admiration and moral guidance, That’s just my opinion. So a better relation does matter economically, militarily and culturally.
    Finally, do I actually think Obama’s foreign policy is dramatically different than Bush’s second term policy? No. Fortunately, after the disastrous neocon episode (just remember Wolfowitz’s crazy prediction of flowers on the road to Baghdad) ‘normal’ foreign policy was reinstated.
    BTW, I also have a lot of Chinese friends and none of them thought Obama is a joke.
    Anyway, I don’t want to come off as if I agree with all of Obama’s foreign policy initiatives but I for one am glad we are getting out of Iraq. I know that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan will ever become a real democracy (at least not in my lifetime) and as long as extreme Islamists don’t rule these places I’m fine with it.

    Comment by funny man — 9/24/2009 @ 12:31 am

  16. As a former Brit now living in New Zealand I can say that Obama is far and away better than Bush, who was a complete joke. Obama needs to stand up to the right however - letting Van Jones go was a mistake.

    Comment by Radiohadi — 9/24/2009 @ 2:00 am

  17. “All of these little unilateral gestures and more have been the modus operandi of the Obama foreign policy. Have they made us safer. Are American interests more or less at risk? Are our adversaries more or less likely to advance their own interests at the expense of ours? Just what has Obamalove gotten us?”

    I think it is entirely possible, given a set of initial conditions, that certain actions can make you *less* safe, and certain actions can make you *more* safe. I’m not sure that Obama’s diplomatic approach is going to tackle any of the harder unsolved problems, but surely creating new problems by needlessly alienating people cannot be optimal.

    At least in business, apologies seem to work better than stonewalling (Cf Exxon versus McNeil/Tylenol)


    I would put it this way; Obama’s approach probably causes us fewer problems in the end but will almost certainly cost us dearly when it comes to our relations vis a vis our adversaries. And I think that’s where the meat and potatoes are when it comes to any nation’s foreign policy.


    Comment by Robert Bell — 9/24/2009 @ 7:24 am

  18. Ed. (Rick) Your point is well taken about meat and potatoes, my comment was strictly *all other things being equal*, not alienating people gratuitously is probably a better strategy than doing so.

    Having said all that, to strain the analogy, successful foreign policy is probably meat, potatoes, appetizer, dessert, ambiance, location, good relations with the restaurant reviewers etc. I.e. it probably requires competence on a number of dimensions simultaneously, and moreover, those actions must be part of a coherent whole.

    From what I gather from reading Dan Drezner, international institutions like the U.N. and the WTO may have their problems, but they also provide a mechanism whereby parties can refer to an (ostensibly) neutral, rule-based framework to help influence each other’s behavior. (as in Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes) So (credibly) pledging to work within an international framework can *theoretically* produce better outcomes than unilateralism. It then becomes a matter of empirical data whether it makes sense. Thus Obama’s reaffirmation of commitment to such institutions is also, all other things being equal, not a bad thing.

    However, your essential meat and potatoes question in your original quote remains - will we be better off?

    Comment by Robert Bell — 9/24/2009 @ 8:30 am

  19. Inevitably, Obama will have to make a tough choice. It is that moment I fear, based on his populist approach to international relations.

    It is a good thing to be liked, and quite another to be manipulated. As you point out, our friends like Obama. But even that may change when the inevitable happens and our interests diverge. Our enemies have sized him up as Jimmy Carter’s Mini-Me, and have been emboldened to act recklessly. Right now, Russia is letting China take the lead to block sanctions of Iran. Medevev, of course, whispers sweet nothings to the president about his fantastic decision not to place a tripwire in Poland and the Czech Republic. So as a modus vivendi China will do the heavy lifting for Iran.

    There isn’t anything wrong with being liked. But when a president is the object of ridicule, and I strongly suspect this one is among our adversaries, it is quite dangerous. Yes, Bush alienated our Allies. But our enemies feared him. Which of the two is more likely to cause problems and lead to a widened war?

    Intelligent and constructive foreign policy is tough. This president and those around him have displayed little talent for it.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 9/24/2009 @ 10:22 am

  20. Jackson1234,
    sure the Russians like to play chess and they are pretty good at it. That is how they approach foreign policy. You think they feared Bush more than Obama? Based on what? Their ‘careful’ handling of Georgia? They will obviously try to gain the most be there Bush or Obama in the WH.

    Comment by funny man — 9/24/2009 @ 2:57 pm

  21. Engagement is a tactic…not a policy objective..

    All you guys think you know the Obama strategy, but I’m guessing that what you don’t know would fill a book..

    Comment by Moltenorb — 9/24/2009 @ 4:34 pm

  22. Moltenorb.
    why so generous? Only a book? ‘I know that I don’t know’ like the old Greeks used to say.

    Comment by funny man — 9/24/2009 @ 4:50 pm

  23. The Indians do not appear to be happy with the Obamessiah either:


    Comment by RegisLowen — 9/28/2009 @ 6:07 pm

  24. yo, yo yo

    Comment by Peter — 9/29/2009 @ 11:14 pm

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