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America’s New Friends

Indeed, Barack Obama is making good on his campaign promise and changing foreign opinions of the U.S.:

Hamas official Ahmed Yousef said in an interview with al-Jazeera television that there had been “some positive things” in Obama’s statements, the Associated Press reported from Cairo.

In a statement posted on sympathetic Web sites yesterday, the Taliban called the Guantanamo closure a “positive step” but said it was an insufficient change in Bush’s “satanic” policies in the region and the world, according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist sites.

. . . Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday that he is open to a dialogue with the Obama administration but that he would not accept any preconditions to talks.

Hamas, the Taliban, and Bashar al-Assad all like what they’ve seen of President Obama so far. Had this first-week hat trick been predicted by the GOP ticket during the election, John McCain would have been run out of the country for invoking the politics of fear. Had it been foretold as fact, he’d have won the election.

This is what happens when myths go unchecked. In reality, George W. Bush did not leave the White House on bad terms with a single American ally. Guantanamo Bay didn’t prevent Nicolas Sarkozy from bringing France back into NATO’s command structure or pledging more troops to the fight in Afghanistan. The waterboarding of three terrorists didn’t give Gordon Brown pause when he said, upon first meeting with President Bush, “The strength of this relationship . . . is not just built on the shared problems that we have to deal with together or on the shared history, but is built . . . on shared values.” Nor did temporary CIA prisons stop Angela Merkel from saying of her ties to President Bush, “a positive and friendly relationship has developed.” (And all three leaders’ nations share our Iran policy as much as they ever will.)

Let’s not forget that Bush’s European friends are but acquaintances compared to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who told Barack Obama’s predecessor, during a September visit to Washington, “This may be my last visit to you during your presidency, and let me say, thank you very much. The people of India deeply love you.”

All the hyped national security “evils” of the Bush years merely gave the netroots something to do when they were done defending Bill Clinton’s right to perjury. Oh, yeah, and those evils also had the side benefit of keeping us safe for seven years and putting our sworn enemies on notice. So, as various fanatics and tyrants seem rather taken with our revamped image, I can’t help but wonder what our genuine friends will think when the former group tests out some of our changed approaches to global security.