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.
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.”
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?