Free Markets, Free People

Foreign Policy? Becoming A Bit Uncomfortable On The Left

Gloria Borger, hardly a right-winger (and certainly an Obama supporter), takes Obama to task about his performance so far in the foreign policy arena:

This is not a column about whether the president should take pictures with — or shake the hands of — unstable foreign leaders who mostly call him names and rant about America.

Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable. A grimace instead of a smile on the face would be better, sure. But it’s not the end of America’s standing in the world, as some are suggesting.

But there is a problem, and it’s not about photo ops. It’s about finding the appropriate tonal response to leaders who say outrageous things about us and about our allies.

What she’s talking about are two recent incidents – one in which Obama was in attendance and the other occurred in the UN when Iran’s Amadinejad called for the destruction of Israel.

In both cases, Obama’s response was essentially a non-response.

Says Borger:

Case in point: When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the podium at the United Nations conference in Geneva on Monday to call Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime,” we might have said something. The European delegates walked out of the conference (we declined to attend), but when asked about the brouhaha later, the State Department spokesman, sticking to the talking points, could only muster that “that type of rhetoric is not helpful and doesn’t help facilitate a constructive dialogue.”

You think?

A bit of a chuckle there for me. You know it’s gotten bad when even the Borgers of the world are criticizing the issuance of boilerplate rhetoric in response to what the rest of the West considers to be outrageous and inflammatory words. While not exactly a non-response, the administration comes as close to one as you can with its words.

But the second incident is even worse. Here Borger is talking about Newt Gingrich’s criticism of Obama and claiming he missed his real opportunity:

But the Summit of the Americas gave them an easy opportunity to decry the president’s weakness, not only after his handshake with Chavez but also when he sat quietly through Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s 50-minute anti-American rant.

He didn’t have to walk out, but he could have given a sharper critique of Ortega’s histrionics after the event. Instead, he decided to just give it the back of his hand, saying only that “it was 50 minutes long.”

Its funny, the administration will attack any domestic critic with the full power of its spin machine. And yet, the president sits through a 50 minute anti-American tirade (after one of his advisers declared anti-Americanism was no longer cool in the world) and has no reaction at all.

Tell me, who’s job is it to defend the US if not his? Of course that’s not an easy thing to do if a president engaged in apologizing for the country at every foreign affairs opportunity, is it?


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25 Responses to Foreign Policy? Becoming A Bit Uncomfortable On The Left

  • And yet, the president sits through a 50 minute anti-American tirade (after one of his advisers declared anti-Americanism was no longer cool in the world) and has no reaction at all.

    Maybe he was just waiting for the offering plate to make its way around.

  • Tell me, who’s job is it to defend the US if not his?

    Must be somebody’s above his pay grade.

  • Barack Obama:  still voting ‘present’

  • Obama’s approach will yield benefits — and is seen very positively in the world press.  He isn’t hurt too much at home because it’s still the honeymoon and he has four years to amass a record.  Also, a lot of the criticisms of the US are accurate.  We’ve acted like an arrogant hyperpower, but yet seemed so defensive we refused to even acknowledge past errors or apologize for mistakes.  In psychology that kind of ‘fear that admitting error will be seen as weakness’ is a pathology.  We’ve acted pretty disgracefully in many areas in the past, and Obama has the task for rebuilding our relationship.  Listening to harsh criticism and not shunning people because they disagree with our policies is a start.  And if he succeeds in four years, we’ll have a very different and I believed improved foreign policy.  I’m more hopeful about this country’s future than I’ve been in a long time — in part because we’re confronting our mistakes — both in foreign policy, and in the hyper consumerist unsustainable lifestyle we’ve had.  Confronting mistakes is the first step towards solving problems.  I’m optimistic!

    • that kind of ‘fear that admitting error will be seen as weakness’ is a pathology

      Erb, once again, totally misses the irony of his own words.

    • Scott:

      For what “past mistakes” should we apologize?  The Bay of Pigs?  Overthrowing Salvador Allende?  Elections in El Salvador?  Undermining the Sandinistas?  Anti-drug wars in Columbia?  Opposing Hugo Chavez?

      • Arch!  I’m surprised you have to ask! 

        We’re to apologize for being the bulwark of the west for the last 50 years.
        We’re to apologize for ‘hubris’ in trying to establish a democracy (horrors!) in Iraq!
        We’re to apologize for trying to stop Socialism from spreading through out Latin America (enabling the current crop of tin pots to have a shot at destroying their countires).
        Not only were our aims unpure, our methodologies were almost always wrong.
        As the sole super power since the fall of the Soviet Union we’re to apologize for BEING the sole super power!
        We should, probably on a national level, all sign an apology card for removing Jimmah Carter from office.
        We’re wrong to have supported Israel aggression against peaceful organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.  We should probably apologize for the embassy we had in Iran full of our diplomatic personnel when the Shah’s regime collapsed.
        Probably should be apologizing to Syria for letting those damn Joooooooooos destroy their secret nuclear plant that, whups, the Syrians didn’t have (we’ll apologize for that in private instead).
        Certainly we should be apologizing for our hyper consumerism, and our SUV’s and based on reports this morning we should apologize for the effect we’ve had on the sun, which has caused it to sort of kind of go dormant since 1985 but they just really noticed this year, and it didn’t really have any effect on global warming anyway, and that was all us. 

        The list goes on, I mean, pretty much we should apologize for existing, and electing Reagan, Bush & Bush.

        Fortunately we NOW have a president who’s fully prepared to apologize for everything, and he’s cool, and it’s uncool not to like him and us, so pretty soon all those guys who, despite our apologies and smiles and handshakes and reaching outs, will soon realize how uncool it is to be mean to us and we’ll all get together for a big global picnic (which the Americans will pay for).

        If this all seems garbled, it’s okay, because that’s pretty much the way Professor Erb thinks.

    • Drive by turd drop.

    • Scott wants the United States to apologize for all the things that the KGB and its legacy of propaganda portrayed and continues to portray the U.S. to be.

      That way, by apologizing for it, we validate it.

      Obama’s on board, clearly always has been, and Scott likes that. But most of all, Hugo Chavez likes it.

      • And don’t forget, Scott has apologized for virtually every totalitarian regime, living and dead, while he gets away with it. If challenged, for instance, about the Soviets, well, they’re gone, so he can scrunch his face up and damn Stalin. Castro boys, they’re still around, and very popular around the academy, and Hollywood, so “Castro is still better than Batista.” That’s nuance, for you non-John Kerry enthusiasts.

      • I’m glad we have a president who thinks like Hugo Chavez and Scott Erb, finally!

    • “I’m more hopeful about this country’s future than I’ve been in a long time — in part because we’re confronting our mistakes — both in foreign policy, and in the hyper consumerist unsustainable lifestyle we’ve had.  Confronting mistakes is the first step towards solving problems.  I’m optimistic!”

      If “we” were actually confronting any actual mistakes, I might agree with you.  What “we” are doing is no more than publically displaying our hair shirt in foreign policy, and “curing” our consumerist lifestyle by tripling deficit spending.  Keep guzzling the retard juice, Scott.

    • Scott, I believe you have missed the point again.  The good offices of the world press are good for exactly nothing.  During and after the G20, Obama got plenty of good press, but zero help with his requests.  That is because all countries tend to their own interests.  No matter how good the world press,  neither the press nor the countries leadership advocated anything they would not have advocated before.  The positions did not soften one iota.

      You need to pull out your Machiavelli again.  Nothing has changed since he wrote “The Prince”.  Sweet nothings are still just sweet nothings.


  • Buyer’s remorse, anybody?

    Perhaps the principle problem that lefties have is their unwillingness – perhaps even inability – to deal with reality when it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions.  Hence, they are constantly flummoxed when things don’t quite work out the way they predicted.  Here’s a perfect case in point: the left, fixated on the idea that George Bush (snarl!) was the biggest foreign policy dunce in American history and that his bumbling and arrogance delivered a one-two punch to our standing in the world, confidently expected that the smooth, brilliant, diplomatic TAO would quickly patch up our relations and open a whole new era of dialogue, even with countries that actively hate us.  Now, they’re rather surprised (!) that Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, the Taliban, and other bad actors not only refuse to cooperate, but are even more aggressive in their words and actions (o’ course, those of us on the right predicted that this sort of thing would happen, but we were dismissed and insulted for our pains).

    Borger asks for “a little outrage”, suggesting that TAO might consider the judicious employment against the Chavezes and Ortegas of the same angry, righteous tone that he employed against bankers back in January.  I can only suppose that she’s serious when she suggests that TAO, in effect, take a leaf from Bush’s playbook; maybe TAO should start using phrases like “evil empire” or “axis of evil”?  What does she think will follow from a little outrage from the Oval Office?  That Chavez, Ahmedinejad, and Kim Jong-Il will quake in their boots?  That they’ll send emissaries to Washington to apologize for not realizing how serious TAO is and beg for another chance to negotiate?  Or will they continue their war of words, confident that any outrage from TAO is mere presidential fakery and that he’s FAR more likely to take punitive measures against stockbrokers and corporate executives than against them?

    I also suggest that Borger and other lefties lay off the pot for a few hours, go find a quiet place, and think hard about the juxtaposition of TAO’s anger at American bankers (and his actions toward them) with his meek, apologetic demeanor toward foreigners who openly express their hatred of our country (and his plans to cut defense spending).  Ask the question: who does he really think our enemies are?

  • “Obama’s approach will yield benefits — and is seen very positively in the world press.”
    His approach has been to stiff our allies and wallow in maudlin apologetics.  And actually Britain did not react very positively to Obama’s rude treatment of PM Brown.
    From the linked Telegraph article. 
    We get the point, sunshine: we’re just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends. Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. The French will be able to offer you first rate support from their catering corps but beyond that you’ll be on your own.
    As to our “hyper consumerist” life style we’ve just switched to a hyper spending government.  I don’t for a minute believe that is “confronting our mistakes.”

  • Obama’s naive world view is going to get a lot of good people killed. Like other infantile leftist world views, Obama believes that problems are solvable by talking.  The Iranians and North Koreans totally agree.  While Obama talks, they will continue their preparations to attack us.

  • Obama and his team are completely unqualified.  I am still waiting an answer from someone on the left as to why they selected Barack Obama out of hundreds of millions of people to be their presidential candidate.  Did they know he would cave in to every dictator on the planet?  Did they know he would nationalize huge sectors of our economy – seizing private property with taxpayers’ money?  Did they know he would bad mouth our country abroad?  Did they know he would triple the deficit in 100 days? 

    Why nominate or elect Obama?

    • Why?  Because with a leader like Obama, Erb can state with conviction “I’m more hopeful about this country’s future than I’ve been in a long time . . . I’m optimistic!”  What more endorsement that we are on the right track – completely disregarding the actual events of the day – do you need?

      Can’t you just feel the love?!?!

    • Why nominate or elect Obama?

      For the same reason that Bush got elected in 2004… the other alternative seemed even worse.  Actually, I think that covers most elections…

  • Our mistakes are numerous, but I won’t bother listing them.  In my own blog today “Teflon Obama?” I reflect on this, and Jon Martin’s  Politico column “Obama Skates while the right fumes.”  My take is that like 1932 and 1980, this was a realignment election (Larry Sabato also argues this).  Re-alignments correspond with Presidents who seem to get away with things that the opposition thinks are horrible (and which earlier Presidents would not have).  The fact is, the country has changed, and the kind of political arguments you guys are making aren’t going to stick, they are anachronistic.  You’ll have to get used to it the way the left got used to Reagan and the last realignment in 1980 (again, this is the subject of my blog today).

    • Scott, there is nothing — nothing — more anachronistic than socialism, social democracy, big spending, promise interest groups everything, Gramscian counter-culture, re-heated New Left horses**t. And Obama has it all. He shops the most worn out ideas as if they were iPods, and he appears to be badly educated enough to think that they are new.

      You’ve been caught in so many corners and contradictions just in the past month or so that it restores my faith in your capacity to push that old reset button of yours and walk back in the room with that silly grin on your face. But there I go again getting off into the psychological study when the subject is politics.

      Bruce Bawer is writing today about the miserable failure in Europe of the very same ideas that you think are “new” from Obama. The contextlessness of your babble, much less the incoherency of your ideas, always impresses me. Somehow you alchemize a century late and a dollar short into the wave of the future. But with your wave, there is no future. It’s been tried, and it’s not there.

  • “the left got used to Reagan.”??

    Right. The same way an evangelical Christian gets used to Satan.

    • The Left got used to Reagan the same way they’re used to Clarence Thomas, guilty of the crime of not being black enough for white liberals. I mentioned his name to a liberal friend of mine the other day, just in passing, and it was as if I had let out a big old sulphur fart.

      Liberals still hate Reagan.  If there are some who don’t it’s because they’re too young to know about him or too senile to remember. Besides, the Left is back to the revolution, now, and they’re not Americans, they’re citizens of the world. America is an “anachronism.” No need to stick up for that old thing. It’s a worn-out idea.  You knew that, right?

  • Hating Reagan and getting used to the fact that he changed the political landscape are two different things.  I personally hate Reagan for his policies and his effectiveness in foisting those policies on this country, yet at the same time I recognize he was a towering figure on the political landscape who forever altered our national politics in a lot of ways.  So yes, as a member of the left, I guess you could say I got “used” to him.