Pete, you highlight in vivid terms the very startling phenomenon of a president who seems not very much concerned with defending the reputation and honor of the country he was elected to lead. This is of course not exactly new. During the campaign, he went to Berlin and proclaimed his citizenship of the “world” — an odd formulation for someone then seeking the presidency not of the “world” but of a particular country. How much odder now that he is president to see him speak of America as a distant observer, critiquing it as would a Harvard professor, and tut-tutting our desire to “dictate” to the world. It is all of a piece — the perfect embodiment of the academic Left which eschews nationality and even more so pro-Americanism.
You raise the possibility that there is a certain potent egotism at work here — the desire to be adored by not just the American public but by a world audience, which of course doesn’t always think very highly of America. But that should be no problem for Obama who finds his country’s behavior to be arrogant and self-centered and insufficiently concerned with others. How nice that he can bond with international audiences in their mutual disdain for America’s behavior. Left unremarked upon is the blood shed to free Muslims in multiple wars, the billions Obama’s predecessor spent in fighting AIDS in Africa, and our historic standing as the most philanthropic country on the planet. Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good gripe session against Uncle Sam.
These things are never simple and perhaps Obama’s peculiarly detached and hyper-critical view of America (which necessitates figurative and literal bowing and a fair measure of scraping) neatly fits both his intellectual bent and personal needs. Still, the cause is not so nearly important as the result. The prostration of the American president before European crowds, Iranian mullahs, and Chinese dictators leads, as we have seen in history, not to a more united and peaceful world, but one more dangerous and violent. Nations big and small, and non-state actors, realize the U.S. is unwilling or unable to assert its moral and military weight.