walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: March 31, 2010
Kicked By The Great White North

The health care win has given the President his mojo back at home, but things overseas are still looking grim.  We are neglecting or quarreling with our friends and reaching out to our enemies — but neither policy is yielding much in the way of results.

The latest case is Canada; on a visit to Ottawa to discuss Arctic policy with Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly criticized the Canadians for failing to invite all eight members of the Arctic Council to the consultation.  Iceland, Finland and Sweden were miffed at being excluded.  This was all very well and no doubt deserved; the next day, however, the Canadian Foreign Minister rejected Secretary Clinton’s pleas and announced that Canada will be ending its Afghan mission next year.

I don’t blame any American diplomat for seizing the opportunity to criticize Canada for its lack of sensitivity and inclusiveness; they do it to us all the time and I don’t see why the Canadians should have all the fun.  Let’s criticize them for riding roughshod over the rights of small countries and native peoples now and then just to let them know how pointless and infuriating that kind of self-righteous and empty posturing can be.  Even so, lecturing one day and begging in vain on the morrow isn’t the most dignified diplomatic posture an American secretary of state can assume.  And the pattern of poor relations with close allies is disturbing.  Currently embroiled in a quarrel with Israel over Jewish housing construction in East Jerusalem, the administration recently angered the EU by refusing to attend a summit in Madrid, embarrassed Britain by seeming to side with Argentina over negotiations over the Falklands Islands, canceled an invitation to Afghanistan’s President Karzai, and cheesed off Brazil when President Obama made his last minute, ill-fated dash to Copenhagen to snatch the 2016 Olympics from Rio.  And where the administration hasn’t figured out a way to insult an old ally, Congress steps in — this time by passing another version of the Armenian genocide resolution through a key House committee.


None of this has worked particularly well.  The EU powers are not exactly leaping to Washington’s support on Afghanistan.  A British parliamentary committee has just pronounced the US-UK special relationship over.  Brazil’s President Lula da Silva publicly rejected Secretary Clinton’s public request for support for a sanctions resolution at the UN.  Turkey is flirting with Iran and hanging out with Russia.  For now, at least, the Israelis are resisting Washington’s pressure for a freeze on new construction in Jerusalem.

The policy of slapping friends seems not to be working very well; the policy of kissing up to the bad guys has been even less of a success.  North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Iran have blown off the administration’s efforts to put bilateral relationships on a friendlier basis.  Not only is President Obama back to Bush’s old policy of trying to get the UN to adopt tougher sanctions on Iran, he’s denouncing human rights crackdowns in Cuba.  The biggest success to date, getting a new missile treaty with Russia, is at lot less impressive than it looks.  Russia needs to reduce the costs of its nuclear arsenal and wants the prestige that comes from arms talks with the US just like the Soviet Union used to have.  I support the treaty and hope it gets ratified, but on the whole it’s more a favor from us to Russia than the other way round.

In many cases, the administration has good reasons for specific choices that it makes.  Russia, for example, is never going to be our best friend, but there is no point in not trying to put relations on a more businesslike basis.  Britain’s stand on the Falkland Islands, that there is ‘nothing to negotiate’ where sovereignty is concerned, is a tricky one to support.  It always looks bad to be against talks.  Given global skepticism about US intentions after the poorly handled war in Iraq, it made sense for the Obama administration to bend over backwards to show it was willing to reach a new relationship with Iran.  Pressing Karzai to clean up the abysmal corruption that wastes American money and undermines the strength of his government is certainly the right thing to do.  And by twice announcing controversial housing decisions in Jerusalem during critical talks with the United States, the Israeli government was showing enough arrogance or incompetence that the White House had to do something.

But while many of steps the administration is taking make sense on their own terms, when you look at them all together the picture isn’t pretty.  Beating up on your friends and kissing up to your enemies looks terrible, especially when neither your friends nor your enemies show any respect.  Slamming Honduras and pampering Russia might have both been good decisions on their own; but when you do them both you end up looking like a hypocrite who moralistically and didactically lectures the weak while fawning on the strong.  Nobody respects that kind of behavior, and nobody admires people who practice it.  It tastes weak, like blood in the water — and the sharks out there are paying attention.

The emerging perception of weakness is one reason the administration has had to fight Israel so hard over the Jerusalem issue.  As Laura Rozen reports in a must read article at, administration sources say that the quarrel with Netanyahu is “bigger than Jerusalem” because “it’s about the credibility of the administration.”  It’s precisely because so many people have kicked so much sand in the administration’s face that it had to raise the stakes so high on this one.

Forcing Netanyahu to back down in Jerusalem may help the administration fight the perception of weakness abroad, but it is unlikely to help President Obama much at home.  And he may not get the win he seeks.  Canada and Brazil have blown the administration off with no ill effects, and even the preternaturally accommodating Japanese are still defying the administration over the unpopular American military base on Okinawa.  If Netanyahu sticks to his guns on an issue where he has strong domestic support, he might still force Washington to compromise.


Beating up on our few remaining friends isn’t going to fix things.  What the President really needs is a victory over an adversary.  He needs to get North Korea, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Venezuela or even Cuba to take a step back — or he needs to charm one of them into behaving more nicely.  Capturing bin Laden or otherwise achieving something decisive in Afghanistan would also be a plus.  Failing that, foreign policy will be a continuing weak spot for the administration, and sooner or later that will mean trouble.

Interestingly, the President’s approach overseas mirrors his strategy at home over health care.  On health care, he was criticized for fighting with his base on issues like single payer, the public option and abortion while bowing and scraping to contemptuous Republicans who gave him nothing in return.  In the end he got his bill.

He seems to be hoping the same pattern will work overseas.  By fighting with the base (Israel) and trying to engage with an unyielding enemy (Iran) can he assemble a coalition that could bring peace in the Middle East and unite Arabs behind his leadership as he moves aggressively against the Iranian nuclear program?

It’s a strategy, and I wish him every success, but unfortunately the Middle East is even tougher than Washington, DC.  A lot more can go wrong, and the President of the United States doesn’t have nearly as much control over events.  It’s a lot easier to win over a few skittish congressional votes than it is to get Syria to support Middle East peace — or to get Iran to give up its drive for nukes.

Part of the problem may be that the administration’s dislike of Bush administration policies may extend to countries that cooperated with the last administration.  That’s a mistake.  Many of the countries who supported the United States in Iraq (especially the ones in Central and Eastern Europe) didn’t do it because they loved war, loved neoconservatism or loved Bush.  They did it because they believe that good relations with a strong United States are the foundation of their own security.  These countries are potentially President Obama’s good friends as well.  Many of them don’t care who the president is or what he wants; they will work with Washington and give it what help they can no matter whether we have a Blue State or Red State leader.  It’s more important than one might think to treat these countries with consideration and to bring them along when our policy changes.  Countries around the world should know that if you stand by the United States we will stand by you, and our new president won’t blame you for working with our last one.

I’m glad to see that President Obama has patched up his quarrel with French President Sarkozy; this was an ally we unintentionally offended and I’m glad we got it right.  I hope that after the British election (probably next month), the White House will reach out to the winner.  Great Britain remains this country’s most longstanding great power ally; its interests align closely with ours on many important international issues and we only make ourselves look small when we deprive ourselves of the value of its counsel or fail to treat it with the honor and respect it is due.  The President’s visit to Indonesia and Australia, canceled at the height of health care fight, needs to happen without fail next time, and the President needs to make a special effort to make the visit work for his hosts.  Poland, the Baltic republics, and other Central and East European countries could use some more love — and remember, the United States would like to see more EU countries support Turkey’s desire to join the EU, and those countries all vote.  Perhaps even more consequentially, India is a country whose vital interests match up very well with ours in what are likely to be the two most important foreign policy arenas of the twenty-first century: Asia and the Middle East.  As we work with Pakistan, we need to make sure that India doesn’t feel neglected.

The administration’s desire to reach out to more countries and expand the network of America’s close partners and associates is a sound one, but neglecting old friends is a bad way to make new ones.  Demonstrating that the United States remembers those who stand by it and scrupulously discharges its debts of gratitude and honor will make our friendship more attractive to potential new allies.  If we want Syria, for example, to think seriously about working with us rather than against us, we want it to see that we honor our commitments.

Paradoxically, if we want to make friends with our enemies, the best place to start might be with our friends.

show comments
  • John Barker


    Does the antipathy of President Obama toward the UK come from an ideology or some kind of personal animus? I was troubled by the return of the Churchill bust since WSC has been a hero in our family for many years and is widely considered one of the greatest men of the age.

  • Mike M.

    Personal animus. President Obama harbors strong negative feelings towards the British due to their 20th century colonialist oppression of Kenya.

    And regardless of whether or not his feelings on this matter are justified, he frankly does a rather poor job of hiding them. Unless the newly elected Prime Minister apologizes to him, Kenya, and the world, it’s hard to imagine that his deep-seated negative feelings towards the British are going to change at all.

  • http://??? tom kinney

    Mr. Mead has again hit on something here. There is a built-in, congenital arrogance to Obama’s approach to just about everything and it only gets magnified when thrown up on the screen of big picture foreign policy projects. There’s something to what Mike M. says above, in that it always feels very personal (Kenya and the Brits) when it comes from Obama. Israel, Britain, much of Europe, Australia, India, now Canada, these are all traditional allies he seems to care little about, and almost seems to be taunting for the express purpose of distancing them from us. It’s true that he comes from a personal background, that while ultimately proto-American, hasn’t hitherto been the presidential norm, but aren’t there some areas that tradition dictates expected responses to, or at least until there is a viable alternative? He shoots first and then assesses the situation through the gunsmoke. He seems to be a man who thinks he should be wearing bigger shoes than his foot size dictates and therefore trips a lot. An awful lot and at a precarious and fragile point in history. Maybe an ongoing pilates class would be helpful. Get one of those giant OT balance balls for the Oval Office.
    BTW, “contemptuous conservatives” is itself a bit contemptuous, seeing how at least an equal amount of contempt was directed by Obama and the Ds toward the Rs.

  • Mal Armstrong

    “Slamming Honduras and pampering Russia might have both been good decisions on their own…”

    In what way is slamming Honduras a good decision on its own? Unless you are arguing that appeasing Venezuela is in any way a good strategy, I do not see how isolating a tiny country struggling to retain its democracy can be anything but a blind ideological blunder. I think you had it right in your column about Obama becoming the next Carter.

  • WigWag

    It’s a strategy, and I wish him every success, but unfortunately the Middle East is even tougher than Washington, DC. A lot more can go wrong, and the President of the United States doesn’t have nearly as much control over events. It’s a lot easier to win over a few skittish congressional votes than it is to get Syria to support Middle East peace — or to get Iran to give up its drive for nukes.” (WRM)

    The Middle East is tougher than Washington, D.C. but there’s another problem with the President’s strategy. He was able to get wavering Democrats to vote for the health care bill because those Democrats understood that failure to enact health care reform after all the debate and promises would represent a monumental failure. They understood that despite the relative unpopularity of the bill, their reelection was more jeopardized by a failure to enact health care reform than by passing this legislation.

    The situation with the current Israel-U.S.-Palestine imbroglio is precisely opposite. Given the unpopularity of the Palestinians in the United States and the bipartisan support for Israel, Democrats in congress are far more likely be defeated for supporting the President than they are by opposing him. That’s why more than 370 House members just signed a letter criticizing Obama for his tiff with Netanyahu.

    One more thing; although Mead didn’t mention it, Obama snubbed the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians earlier this year on Missile Defense. He didn’t inform them ahead of time that he was cancelling the program; he woke the Polish Prime Minister in the middle of the night to tell him and the announcement was made on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

    The President is not only incompetent; he doesn’t even seem to know how to be polite.

  • Luke Lea

    Shorter posts, Mr. Mead. You are going to run out of things to say.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Opinions are like love, Luke. The more you give away, the more you have.

  • nadine

    Obama gave nothing to Republicans on health care: they were totally shut out of negotiations. He used them at the end for a false appearance of bipartisanship. Obama has a partisan definition of bipartisanship; for him, bipartisanship is when Republicans abandon their own opinions to agree with liberal Democrats. The only real bipartisan Obama has created has been in opposition to him.

  • JTHC75

    We can’t read his mind, so I think it’s impossible to say why Obama treats the Brits so badly. But the point is that we are treating them badly. The fact that the House of Commons just publicly determined that we have no special relationship is a terrible development, and you would think that a wise President would immediately board an airplane to demonstrate otherwise. The loss of Britain as our closest ally is the most troubling development in US foreign policy in 50 years.

  • Travis McGee

    I don’t see how you arrive at the assertion that “many of steps the administration is taking make sense on their own terms. . . .” None of your examples – some of which have been aptly addressed in the comments above – are even remotely persuasive.

    Allow me to take up another one of your examples. You say that Britain’s position vis a vis the Falklands, “that there is ‘nothing to negotiate’ where sovereignty is concerned, is a tricky one to support.” Really? So if another country ever lays claim to a U.S. territory, we should be understanding when our allies tell us that our sovereignty is, at best, negotiable?

    Your example regarding Israel is likewise curious, in that you seem to confuse cause and effect. Israel did not come out of the gates seeking a confrontation with the Obama Administration. But the Obama Administration didn’t hesitate to make broad, ill-considered pronouncements on matters that any sentient being knew would be unacceptable to all but the most left-wing factions of Israeli politics. So, in its ongoing struggle to survive, Israel is forced to look like it is defying the will of a U.S. administration.

    But of course, Obama is never one to accept responsibility for his blunders. It should be noted that this is a key characteristic of a narcissist.

  • seekingmoreclarity

    First, let me second the opinion of Mr. Armstrong above. As someone who lives in a country that borders on Honduras, I am appalled that a scholar of your considerable expertise can reach the conclusion that “slamming ([!?!] Honduras might have been [a] good decision.” On what possible basis can you conclude that the mistreatment of Honduras after it used the constitution and multi-branch cooperation to remove a Chavez puppet attempting to illegally perpetuate himself in office. In case you don’t remember Honduras has been a faithful ally of the U.S. during the Sandinista era in Nicaragua and, along with Costa Rica, contributed to the restoration of democracy there. We beclowned ourselves treating them with such contempt. Astoundingly, we are still withholding foreign assistance and revoking visas of public and private individuals the U.S. Embassy concludes in a fit of pique helped protect Honduras from the Zelaya coup d’etat. The current administration is correctly seen by democrats in CA as their enemy and a supporter of Chavez’s 21st Century Socialism.

    Second, where does the conclusion concerning the “quality” of the management of the war in Iraq come from? Please help us understand by explaining which objectives originally planned for the Iraq incursion have not been achieved. The only one I can think of is the hope that a democratic government in Iraq might inspire a modernization of the ME around more open and transparent governance. No, unfortunately, not achieved, but a long shot at best and not fundamental to the decision anyway. Otherwise, where are Saddam and Sons? Where is the WMD capacity, which he possessed and had used? How is the nuclear weapon development process (confirmed by both ISGs) going (that would have been fun to watch, a nuclear armed Iraq confronting a similarly capable Iran)? Where are the abuses of the Iraqi population, both physical and political? One could go on. Or perhaps we should have spent less money and time by going directly to FDR-style total war tactics in Iraq? Wars can always be better “handled” after they are over.

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  • Flash Hole

    “What the President really needs is a victory over an adversary. “

    He did get one – over a domestic adversary. He only vaguely understands the danger from foreign adversaries.

  • Yehudit

    *sigh* The apartments in Jerusalem which were approved in a mundane Housing Authority announcement are in a Jewish neighborhood in NORTH Jerusalem, between two other Jewish neighborhoods, and not in an Arab neighborhood and not in EAST Jerusalem.

    One of many inaccurate statements that no one seems to want to check. There are maps of modern Jerusalem on the web which show Ramat Shlomo.

    Why did the Obama administration become unhinged over this and spread the falsehood? See the article above. In fact, his treatment of Israel – in terms of bullying a democracy, meddling in its internal affairs, misrepresenting the situation, refusing to back down or admit error – is very similar to his treatment of Honduras. That’s his template with small democracies in hostile neighborhoods. His template with large dictatorships or oligarchies is to suck up.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Jimmy Carter, Jr. not nearly as competent as his namesake.

  • PTL

    In order to have an intelligent and cohesive
    foreign policy you need intelligent people.
    Unfortunately we lack both the people or the

  • Yehudit

    The only reason the Jerusalem housing issue became a big deal in the first place is because Biden and Obama made it one. Otherwise no one would have noticed – do you think that was the only housing announcement in Jerusalem that week?

    They made a big deal out of it because not only did they not check their facts as to where the neighborhood is and what its history is, they didn’t care to. Instead of going ballistic, Biden could have picked up the phone and said, “I heard this housing announcement – what’s the story on that?” and then behaved appropriately, which would be to carry on as if nothing was wrong, because indeed, nothing was wrong.

    I am convinced Obama did this on purpose because he wants to move the goalposts. Before, dividing Jerusalem wasn’t on the table – now it is. Obama did that, not Netanyahu, and he did it on purpose. He would have found another excuse, another routine housing announcement in a neighborhood that was never an issue before or shouldn’t be, or something similar. And he will do it again.

  • Neferi the devil chaser

    This article is unimpressive and lacking in moral character in almost every respect. It is judgemental (in accordance with vaguely leftist premises). And then there are lines such as “I support the treaty (with Russia) and hope it gets ratified.” Why would the U.S. or anyone else limit its strength of arms to the laughable Russian level? If so, why not insist that everyone also settle on a “treaty” restricting themselves to the Russia level of GNP per capita? Or their level of political plurality and tolerance of speech? After all, we don’t want them to feel inadequate do we? That would be just soooo “unfair.” I can’t believe this!!! If you ask what force is a greater annhilator if the wealth and security of a prosperous society than the traditional four riders of this apocalypse, I answer, “diplomats.”

  • fw

    I wonder; a lot of the world may say they want to see the U.S. rein in Israel, and they may genuinely want it as well, but should it occur, will they respect the U.S. in the morning?

    For all Obama’s talk of engagement, and his willingness to stand aloof from putative allies, Syria and Libya have now urged the Palestinians to abandon talks and take up arms, the Libyans have released members of Al Qaeda from prison, Walid Jumblatt, who seems to blow with the prevailing wind, is now making overtures to erstwhile enemy Syria, and Hamas has organized violent protests in Jerusalem—this after the U.S. adopted its tough stance on settlements.

    And Iran continues its nuclear buildup.

    Does the U.S. turning on Israel, ardently sought by some Arab nations, also project an image of faithlessness and weakness?

    I hope the settlements are removed, with allowances for land swaps, but I have a sinking feeling we’re being played for suckers by a number of bad actors.

  • Nathan B.

    “Kicked by the Great White North” is the headline, but the article seems desperate to to the same to Obama? What gives? There’s no coherence to this piece.

    Incidentally, as a Canadian, I don’t take any offense at all to Ms. Clinton’s recent comments. It seems to me that Canada, the US, and Russia are much closer to the nothern pole than countries like Iceland, but perhaps Ms. Clinton has a point…if one really believes in old, multilateral organizations–which I tend not to.

    The only other bit in the article relating to the title is the fact that Canada is ending its troop commitment to Afghanistan. This is not news at all; it was announced many, many months ago, and has been reiterated every time a journalist asks the government about it. This is not Canada’s way of kicking sand at Ms. Clinton or the US; she simply asked a question that the government has already gone on record as answering for at least half a year.

    For my part, I want our troops home; either put Afghanistan under direct rule and require equal rights for all religions and both genders, or go home. I don’t want my countrymen dying for just another Sharia-prone regime.

  • Nathan B.

    Oops: “…to do” not “to to.”

  • fw

    Re-reading, I see Walter made my point eloquently, already.

    It reminds me a bit of the attitude of intelligence services toward their sources; their services are welcomed, even sought after, but they are never entirely trusted. A traitor by disposition is always a traitor.

    It also seems worth recollecting that when Bush Jr. had his great run, with Libya decommissioning its nuclear program, apparently for fear of an American invasion, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, with Syria withdrawing for the same reason, and the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, with the pro-Russia party being voted out of power, we were anything but complaisant toward the rest of the world. We were aggressive, and that perception of strength seemed to have a salutary effect on the course of political events in a number of countries.

    Is engagement ever the midwife of democracy, or peace for that matter?

    I think about John Lennon a lot walking around the upper West Side, near the Dakota, but I wonder what he would have made of recent events overseas. Would he have denied that democracy in Iraq is a good, albeit fragile thing?

  • robotech master

    I must agree with some of the comments above in that many of the topic you talk about are not based in fact.

    Honduras my well go down and one of the US greatest failures in foreign policy history. Then again as you say obama foreign policy is much like his domestic policy… he neither cares about the Honduras Constitution nor the US Constitution and is very open a vocal about such a belief when he thinks he’s in front of the “right people”. Depending on what Chavez does in the future history my well look back on America’s Neville Chamberlain and wonder what he was thinking. Regardless however of chavez’s future Honduras will be a mark of shame on the US for decades to come.

    His actions with the Falkland Islands were just poorly done in every way. Its one thing to say “Hey this is between you the UK and Argentina just like it was the last time” its another thing to basically blow off everything and all but say “lets let the UN decide who owns this land”. Also talk means that their are questions of ownership… which by default means if obama supports talks he is supporting Argentina’s claims.

    Also while I think obama is pretty much a screw up, Turkey is not really his fault.. yeah he’s not doing anything to help them but realistically he’s not really done anything to hurt them. The Armenian genocide resolution while getting alot of press is frankly not meaningful in any form. Sure it give some of Turkey’s hardliners a few extra minutes of propaganda but that buried in weeks and weeks of other stuff.

    I think end run Honduras may have been the single most important event as far as foreign policy goes. He’s never going to recover from that. He will always be seen as weak because of it and short of invading iran or something along that line is fate all about but sealed to be viewed as weak, easily controlled and cowardly.

  • Freemon SandleWould

    Obama is at the leadership skill level of a petty african dictator. He has shown himself to be a one note Johnny with the vapid transparent personality of an insect that only knows how to eat your house bit by bit.

    Why should foreign policy be any different ????
    …clue: there is not reason.

  • Marty

    After about 15 months I’m still just gobsmacked that Hillary Clinton is SecState. I mean, she invented empty claims of foreign policy experience out of whole cloth in a desperate attempt to differentiate herself from Obama during the campaign, but it was always a bogus claim. So he makes her SecState? C’mon–AG, or HHS maybe, at least there would have been some connection

    Of course, Obama views those as important jobs, and State just a place for someone to not cause trouble while he pursues his important, domestic agenda. So yeah, I get all that.

    But this is just ridiculous.

  • widmerpool

    There’s as much reason for the UK to be ‘negotiating’ the Falklands’ future with Argentina as there is for the US to be negotiating Texas’ future with Mexico.

  • promachus

    Mr Mead, you assume that this is all not happening by design. Most of these countries have sent troops to Afghanisthan and Iraq most reluctantly and they just need the slightest excuse to pull off their missions. Clinton is happy to give the Canadians that cover. Obama administration wants to liquidate post-World War 2 alliance structures, to make sure that the US hegemony is dissolved. Most of these alliances were one sided of course but they needed the US as a bluwark against the Soviets. Now it’s the other way round as the US requires them iand they are not happy to meet even the most basic NATO obligations. With the threat of the Soviets gone and US needing to deal with the Islamist threat (something they do not feel is a big enough threat, hence they are content with expressing “sympathy”), these countries are happy to detach themselves from the US and desert it in the war against terror. They can’t do it at once, so this gradual farce. That’s why so many of them wanted Obama in the WH in the first place, who for his part, hates the US because its power has been used against sundry leftist regimes in the past. That’s why your rhetoric US abandoing it’s allies is a tad unconvincing because the “allies” want the US to leave them alone. Except for maybe Israel, Poland and other small countries which still need US to offset the problems in their backyard.

  • Anonymous

    What is everyone else outside of the USA complaining about?

    They wanted Obama.

    They got Obama.

    And they sure as hell get what they deserve.

  • D. Aria

    Administration sources say that the quarrel with Netanyahu is “bigger than Jerusalem” because “it’s about the credibility of the administration.” With apologies to Joan Rivers — Oh, grow up!

  • aaron


    What would Jimmy Carter Do?

  • fw

    Russia, of all nations, tells Hamas that rocket fire into Israel is unacceptable. Has Hillary Clinton been this clear?

  • Penny Lane

    Everything that Obama thinks about the world he got from Poli Sci 101 as taught by a faculty club Marxist and he has never outgrown the pablum.That’s why he has trouble with America’s traditional allies who are liberal democracies and grovels to third rate dictators

  • Adam

    There is NOTHING “bigger than Jerusalem” !!!, but GOD!!!

  • TimT

    I see this differently. These are the signs of the beginning of the end of the American Empire. Frustrated at not being able to impose its will on its enemies, overstretched militarily and economically, unable to convince its friends by reasoned argument, it turns on its friends. All the signs of impotence and frustration.

  • http://realclearpolitics Gene P

    If Mead really thinks Obama “bowed and scraped” to “contemptuous Republicans”, then he is too dense to comment on any political matter. Even-handedness is one thing; rank ignorance is another.

  • A Conservative Teacher

    Great article, Mead. As usual, you walk a fair and just road, and are only guilty of giving Obama too much credit and due.

    Obama’s problem is that he is not a very good student of history, so doesn’t understand most of the historical examples that you use to illustrate your points. Obama understands defending poor people, community organizing, and giving good speeches that say nothing- but his sense for economics, philosophy, history, and political science are not very well developed and are full of lots of stuttering ‘ahh’s’.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Paul

    Gene P– Agree, fell out of my chair on that one. I don’t think Mead is being ignorant just deceptive — one might even say evil — he is knowingly putting out a lie to try to make his point.
    The better comparison for Mead would be that Obama plays Chicago thug style bully politics with the Republicans who are in the overwhelming minority–so he does that with the small states. On larger foreign states, which can hit back, he grovels because he knows bullying won’t work and he might get hit–Mead might not be smart enough to get this though.

  • Rod E

    GeneP wrote:

    “If Mead really thinks Obama “bowed and scraped” to “contemptuous Republicans”, then he is too dense to comment on any political matter. Even-handedness is one thing; rank ignorance is another.”

    Not dense, perhaps, but certainly so biased that his analyses are not worth reading in the future. And yes, you can go on too long, Mr. Mead, regardless of your “love” analogy.

  • wile e coyote

    Your assessment of friends and enemies depends upon which side Obama is on.

    His upbringing and political associations through almost all of his adult life indicate that his enemies are Western democracies and that his friends are Third World dictators. His Presidential foreign policy has remained in line with this attitude.

  • Norwegian Shooter

    Is anybody else getting the following error when going to the previous post, Faith Matters Sunday, Evangelicals and Politics 2010:

    “HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden
    You do not have permission to access the document or program you requested.”

    I cleaned out all my cookies and still get the error. What’s up?

  • Fred Garvin

    Obama is the first non pro-American president. And I don’t mean to say he’s anti-American. Probably the best way to characterize it is “ambivalent-American”, maybe even “ambivalent-Westerner.”

    He’s also the least vetted presidential candidate ever which explains why there are so many surprises with respect to Obama’s foreign and domestic policy positions.

    It will take 2-3 generations, or another revolution, to recover from Obama. He’s an unmitigated disaster in every respect except one: people are starting to remember the core principles and ideas that made America great.

  • Roy

    I think it must be borne in mind that the rest of the world wants to see the U.S. fail, and will encourage any movement that conduces to that end.

  • valwayne

    Obama’s foreign policy of apology and appeasement toward our adversaries, and disgusting to brutal treatment of our friends is just inexplicable, and clearly failing miserably. We’ll likely survive as a free nation, at least through one term, but there are now real doubts if a nation like Israel can survive Obama!!!!

  • kdanc

    Remember that Canada is the largest trading partner of the United States and supplies the most oil as well.

  • Roy

    Also, in a small symbolic act, that I fear may be portentous, Obama returned that bust of Churchill to England that they loaned us after 9/11, which they offered to keep on loan.

    It is almost like an act of hubris in Greek Tragedy that precedes the crisis.

  • Rob Miller

    Actually, the Obama Administration has had a de facto arms embargo on Israel during the entire 14 months he’s been in office…sort of give the lie to the current flap is due to any Israeli ‘insult.’

    Obama has surrounded himself with anti-Semites and Israel bashers for a long time now, so none of this should be any surprise. Same with India..his strategy is to ingratiate the US with the Muslim world by destroying our relationship with these countries.

    With the UK, it’s even simpler. Obama’s Luo relatives were deeply involved in the Mau Mau terrorist movement, which Britain suppressed.

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  • dt804a

    Well, here is my personal Canadian perspective, as summarized in my letter to our PM:

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    I am writing to urge you to stand up to USA pressure and remove our troops from Afghanistan as scheduled, and as you promised Parliament.

    I support the war against Jihadists everywhere, and I have supported our participation, costly as it is to our nation in blood. But we’ve done our share and it’s time to quit.

    Under its current management, the USA has proved that it grovels before dictators and bashes friends. Honduras, the Czech Republic, Poland the UK (re the Falklands) and, above all, Israel, have all been victims of the new “bash your allies” US policy. Why then should we continue supporting the USA in Afghanistan? By leaving, we will probably offer the current US administration a sobering lesson.

    Please keep your promise and withdraw our troops from Afghanistan on schedule.


  • http://yahoo JOHN calomiris

    What I don`t understand is why some of the “old hands” are not speaking up or slipping info to the friendlier journalists about their concern for the country`s future.They know more about BHO and his proclivities regarding foreign policies so why hold back?

  • Nathan B.

    What is everyone else outside of the USA complaining about?

    They wanted Obama.

    They got Obama.

    And they sure as hell get what they deserve.

    Actually, it’s the US that “has” Obama. I’m not suffering from his actions (yet, anyway), and I don’t mind Hillary, but I had a minor beef with the title of this post.

  • LMo

    History will judge the Obama Administration not on health care but on the economy and whether or not he leaves the world a more dangerous place or a safer place. Sadly, this article illustrates why Obama is making the world a more dangerous place. Those opposed to the U.S. see Obama’s actions a weakness

  • Disgusted Israeli

    So Obama looks weak, and therefor he has to bully Israel and try to change its government? Some friend you are, America. With friends like that, I wonder if Israel needs enemies.

  • Black Saint

    Obama & the Democrats can afford to a be arrogant and make enemies at Home and Abroad because they will end up being in total control of this Nation in a few years!

    The Democrats have an plan to be the controlling Majority party and a lock on power far into the future & Turn this Nation into a socialist Third World welfare state, a socialist paradise. Obama has already said next on the agenda is Immigration reform, which are simple code words for Amnesty & citizenship for the 20 to 30 millions invading Criminals & Uneducated Prolific breeding Third World rejects as a reward for invading this Nation and breaking numerous laws alone with all their Mother,s, Dad,s, Sisters and Brothers in a never ending chain. This will add millions of educating hating, gang joining Hispanics breeding at a prodigious rate & producing more dependent welfare Democrats & assuring enough Democrat Welfare voters to control this Nation forever!

    If the Democrats are successful in granting Amnesty for the millions of illegal Aliens alone with chain immigration we will have lost this Nation. Our future will be a one party Socialist Dictatorship & in a few years a Third World cesspool of Corruption, Crime,Poverty & Misery modeled on Mexico & nothing short of a civil war will be able to break the yoke and servitude of citizens to Obama & the Democrats!

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  • nadine

    Obama is going to double down and push as much as he can through this Congress. He knows that once he loses this Congress, he is gridlocked. The Democrats may hope to pass an Amnesty bill before January, but I hope the reaction of the American people will prevent it. Look, he did pass Obamacare, but at what cost in illegitimacy? and it took a whole year, Pelosi had to beat the Democratic Caucus with baseball bats, and used up most of his political capital, however much the DC elite may be toasting him now.

    Just as the Stimulus cost him credibility, so will Obamacare, as the costs to the economy and our wallets trickle out, long before we see any sign of a benefit.

  • Allan Fraser

    Hey pal,
    Let’s get a few things straight: the current Canadian government and Prime Minister consistently demonstrate very strong support for the United States, and consistently discourage and criticise the anti-American tendencies of Canada’s leftist fringe. For several years, that same Conservative government remained stalwart in providing military combat support to the US Afghan mission — and during that time Canada suffered the highest per capita loss of life of any participating nation, including the United States.

    So Marty, drop your ill-informed notion that Hilary’s smackdown of the Canadian government was somehow a delicious bit of tit-for-tat behaviour. It most assuredly was not.

    Your own attitude in this matter is every bit as annoying as the bewildering behaviour displayed by your top “diplomat”. Not that you really think that matters; after all, it’s just Canada, eh?

  • Peter

    Mr. Mead,

    You are ensconced deep in the recesses of the foreign affaires establishment. You rub shoulders with the movers and shakers that most of us don’t.

    So just between us girls, tell us, when you all get together, kick back with a scotch and cigars in hand, how do you stop from splitting your sides in laughter at the thought of Hillary R. Clinton as Sec. of State. Is it that someone says, Madeleine Korbel Albright?

    I mean seriously, if this the best the U.S. can do, then God help us.

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