It’s still very early in the Obama administration, but a pattern is beginning to emerge in how the president deals with foreign nations. And it isn’t a very pretty one.
Thus far, it seems that the guiding principle of this administration is summed up in a single, concise phrase: “Treat your enemies like friends, and your friends like enemies.” It’s doubtful the plan was envisioned as such, but that is the impression they’re giving so far.
Others here have already discussed at length how the Obama administration is dealing with Israel, so no recap is necessary — but the statements made thus far on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do fit quite nicely into the theme.
Regarding North Korea and China, Obama seems almost eager to offer a hand in friendship to those who have wasted no time in offering insults, offenses, and threats against the U.S.
On the other hand, Obama seems almost eager to alienate Great Britain. And at one point, Obama’s rush to boost the American economy led him to push for some very protectionist, almost jingoistic measures — which royally irritated Canada, who pointedly reminded him that such measures violate long-standing trade agreements with our neighbor to the north.
There is a plausible — if simplistic — explanation for this. Our relations with hostile nations need a great deal of attention and effort in order to improve. On the other hand, our friends already like us; they don’t need much hand-holding and reassuring.
This gives the impression that we take our friends for granted and don’t care about slighting them in favor of those who have been — to put it mildly — far less obliging and amicable.
Do we really want to lose some of the affection and respect we enjoy from some nations in exchange for the dim prospect of others not hating us quite so much? That’s a very, very poor trade-off.