As the Washington Post editors note, if Nick Clegg manages to emerge from the three-way race as Britain’s next prime minster (or force his way into a coalition government) he may manage to trash what is left of the “special relationship” with the U.S. And this would be a telling consequence of Obama’s smart diplomacy, which largely consists of distancing ourselves from allies. The editors remind us:
Intentionally or not, Mr. Obama has offered support for Mr. Clegg’s argument: His relatively chilly relationship with Mr. Brown, including several perceived snubs, has been a persistent theme of British news coverage. Yet the United States can hardly afford a weaker or less friendly Britain at a time when it is still fighting two wars and when diplomacy with states such as Iran, North Korea and Syria is failing. Other longtime American allies, from Brazil to Turkey, have begun opposing the Obama administration on Iran and other issues.
And this is not only understandable but inevitable. As the U.S. proves to be a less reliable ally, other nations will go looking for more reliable one. As the U.S. proves to be hostile or, at best, indifferent, leaders will cultivate relations with heads of state that don’t ignore or insult them.
The irony is great that Obama had pledged to restore our standing in the world and repair supposedly frayed ties with allies. Frankly, our relationship with key allies hasn’t been this bad in decades and our disloyalty to friends has only whetted the appetite of foes. We are therefore more isolated and the world is quickly becoming more dangerous. One longs for the days of “cowboy diplomacy.”