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The Obama Doctrine Fallout
It Continues

Five days after the publication of Obama’s tell-all to Jeffrey Goldberg, the blockbuster “Obama Doctrine,” fallout continues in palaces and chanceries around the world. On Friday, it was the British and the French; today, the Saudis are sounding off. Reuters reports:

A senior Saudi Arabian prince on Monday condemned comments attributed to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying the American leader had “thrown us a curve ball” in criticizing Riyadh’s regional role.

Obama, in comments to The Atlantic last week, described Saudi Arabia as a “free rider” on American foreign policy, and criticized what he saw as Riyadh’s funding of religious intolerance and refusal to come to an accommodation with Iran.

“No, Mr Obama. We are not ‘free riders’,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London, wrote in an open letter carried by the local Arab News English-language daily.

Prince Turki listed Riyadh’s support for Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group, its humanitarian aid for refugees in the region and its creation of an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition. […]

Although Prince Turki does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, his views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom’s top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles.

As we noted on Friday, there was an odd duality to the interview. While the President’s answers were often clearly thought-out, speaking so bluntly about his disdain for leaders he still has to do business with was thoughtless. “Running your mouth and being openly contemptuous and dismissive of fellow leaders to a journalist is the mark of a careless and clumsy amateur,” we wrote.

We note in passing that a new round of Syrian peace talks begin today in Geneva, in which the U.S. will have to rely heavily on Saudi influence with the rebels to achieve its aims.

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  • WigWag

    The Goldberg interview may have been a revelation to the reporter and his readers, but it was no revelation at all to the presidents, princes and potentates who run the world. They already knew that Obama had nothing but contempt for them. How could they not? They’ve been dealing with him for seven years.

    • Beauceron

      I am less concerned at the moment with Obama’s contempt for foreign leaders and more worried about his and his party’s contempt for the American people and the Constitution.

  • Jmaci

    One of the Democrats’ knocks against George Bush was that he horribly weakened our standing in the world. In Obama’s last year, it would be instructive (for me anyway) for WRM and friends to compare how the U.S. is perceived today, vs. when Bush left office.

  • Fat_Man

    After 7 years on the job, you would hope that he would not be an amateur anymore.

  • Proud Skeptic

    While I agreed in principle with Obama’s comments about the rest of the world catching a free ride on the US military, I think he could have been a lot smarter about how he said it. Seems to me like he is violating his own foreign policy rule “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

    One of Obama’s problems is that he thinks that he can fix a problem by deciding what should be done and telling the people involved one time. If they don’t get it by then, well…they are just too stupid to bother with. Pivot to somewhere else…

  • Ellen

    This latest outburst of all those dissed by Obama only proves why Obama the amateur shot off his mouth the way he did (by the way, we haven’t yet heard what Netanyahu thinks of his standing as the most frustrating of all MidEast politicians, even worse than the Saudis). Clearly, Obama is behaving like a petulant teenager. His foreign policy is widely viewed as a calamitous failure by everyone except his court sycophants like Friedman and Ignatius, and the court scribe named Goldberg. His response to this ungrateful lack of appreciation of his genius is to label all the leaders responsible for foiling his policies, or trashing them outright, as “disappointments.” In other words, he is saying, ” I failed because they were all failures. I am really the genius that I always thought I was, but these dwarfs running other important countries ruined my policies and their intended outcomes.”

    He doesn’t want to wait until he is out of office, which would be the appropriate time to make judgments of that ilk, because the horrendous failures of his policies, particularly in the MidEast, are piling up at an embarrassing rate, right along with the body count in Syria. He must say something now to distract people.

    • f1b0nacc1

      He says it now, because if he waits he won’t be the center of attention any more, and he MUST have that…

      • PoohBear57

        100% correct. All he’s trying to do is remain relevant, when it’s clear he has no influence left.

    • Kevin

      I wonder how long it will be until Obama blames Goldberg, claiming he’s a Republican who made up these damaging quotes about Obama and took things out of context, etc. It will be a lie, but the press will eat it up I hope Goldberg’s tax returns can stand up to an audit.

    • Jim__L

      Honestly, this is why “leading from behind” is such a nonsensical approach.

      If all you do is nudge and try to build consensus, you’re handing anyone and everyone permission and the ability to act as spoilers. Obama’s “Because Someone Else” reasoning is in that way sound. But, if you’re going to be going the consensus route, you have to recognize that unless you start from something almost that is almost exactly the consensus position (if one even exists — and consulting the trans-Atlantic chattering classes (or Valerie Jarrett) isn’t the way to find it if it does), your best-laid plans are going to get spoiled.

      So ultimately, Obama set *himself* up for failure. And that’s his own fault.

      • Ellen

        Exactly. Putin knows how to run a coherent policy and it isn’t BY CONSENSUS. As in typical Russian fashion, he decides what he wants to do, and then phones up all of his “allies.” Imagine the phone call he just had with Bashar Assad. He informed Mr. Assad that he is pulling most of the Russian army and airforce out of Syria. Why? Because, I’m tired of your endless, not winnable, blood-soaked war and I have lots of other agendas to pursue. And frankly, you’re in the way of my other agendas, Bashar. So, either you negotiate the solution that I want (partition of Syria, with you getting most of the population and the historic cities) or you get killed by the rebels.

        Now, dear Bashar, would you like to cooperate or would you like to cooperate? It’s my way or the highway, sweetheart.

        That is how you make successful policies with “allies”. Not by convening a blinking meeting, with Kerry droning on with his horseface expression, and then trying to arrive at a nonexistent consensus.

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