The humble part was supposed to get us more cooperation from our allies. He’s got the humble part down great. I think he gets 100 — you know, A-plus for that. He hasn’t gotten anything back.
But perhaps the humble routine is not merely ineffective, but counterproductive. Whether rightly or wrongly the Iranians, North Koreans, and Russians don’t admire humility. And they may perceive all this bowing (literally) and scraping as subservience and weakness.
Robert Gibbs went to rather ludicrous lengths to ignore the implications of the timing of the North Korean test, calling it a “coincidence” that it occurred on the occasion of the president’s dreamy non-proliferation speech. In fact it was a direct rebuff, a testing of his mettle — to quote Joe Biden. The North Koreans clearly think they can act with impunity. And they may be right. Perhaps fewer apologies and more robust projection of American determination and strength would be in order about now.
But the Obama administration is doing what, exactly? Going to the UN of course. That’ll have the North Koreans shaking, right? Former UN Ambassador John Bolton explains:
What is the next step for the Obama administration? It appears to be simply to return to the six-party talks. If that’s all there is, that tells the North Koreans a) we got away with this launch; b) we can probably do it again; and it has implications for Iran and other would-be proliferators as well.
It seems, alas, there are those who cannot be charmed or persuaded by reason — those for whom there are no town halls. When it comes to them, the Obama administration is stumped. They might try, when they have exhausted all other alternatives, sticking with our missile defense programs.