Thursday, April 1, 2010

Smart diplomacy

Apparently the Boy-King of the Conservative Party is unhappy about President Obama, hitherto the man he admired and sought to emulate, taking, well sort of, the Argentinian side in the latest uproar over the Falklands. Well diddums. I recall large swathes of the Conservative Party drooling over the election of this wonderfully charismatic new personality who was bringing hope and change to ... well, it is not quite clear to whom. In fact, the Conservatives have half-adopted the slogan but they talk only about change, not hope. But let us look at the bright side: at least the Boy-King has noticed that there is something going on in the South Atlantic. I must admit I was not absolutely sure.

On the other side of the Pond they look at these things differently. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds we get a link to an expert filleting by Walter Russell Mead of the Obama foreign policy.
The health care win has given the President his mojo back at home, but things overseas are still looking grim. We are neglecting or quarreling with our friends and reaching out to our enemies — but neither policy is yielding much in the way of results.

The latest case is Canada; on a visit to Ottawa to discuss Arctic policy with Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly criticized the Canadians for failing to invite all eight members of the Arctic Council to the consultation. Iceland, Finland and Sweden were miffed at being excluded. This was all very well and no doubt deserved; the next day, however, the Canadian Foreign Minister rejected Secretary Clinton’s pleas and announced that Canada will be ending its Afghan mission next year.

I don’t blame any American diplomat for seizing the opportunity to criticize Canada for its lack of sensitivity and inclusiveness; they do it to us all the time and I don’t see why the Canadians should have all the fun. Let’s criticize them for riding roughshod over the rights of small countries and native peoples now and then just to let them know how pointless and infuriating that kind of self-righteous and empty posturing can be. Even so, lecturing one day and begging in vain on the morrow isn’t the most dignified diplomatic posture an American secretary of state can assume. And the pattern of poor relations with close allies is disturbing. Currently embroiled in a quarrel with Israel over Jewish housing construction in East Jerusalem, the administration recently angered the EU by refusing to attend a summit in Madrid, embarrassed Britain by seeming to side with Argentina over negotiations over the Falklands Islands, canceled an invitation to Afghanistan’s President Karzai, and cheesed off Brazil when President Obama made his last minute, ill-fated dash to Copenhagen to snatch the 2016 Olympics from Rio. And where the administration hasn’t figured out a way to insult an old ally, Congress steps in — this time by passing another version of the Armenian genocide resolution through a key House committee.
Actually, I am not at all sure about that mojo back home. The popularity ratings say otherwise and the fact that the Democrats are spending their time shrilly and viciously attacking the Obamacare opponents instead of explaining what a wonderful development it is do not make one feel that the mojo is at all well. But when it comes to foreign relations Walter Russell Mead is spot on as even our own Boy-king of our own Conservative Party has noticed.

As Professor Reynolds says:
Where’s that “smart diplomacy” we were promised?
Indeed. As the rest of the Mead blog explains, Obama is ending up with many of Bush's old policies as far as Iran, China and Cuba are concerned. One day he might return to Bush's policies towards America's friends as well.


  1. I expect Obama will be sinking even lower in the polls when the costs of Obamacare begin to hit. I'm sure you've heard several corporations talking about huge cost overruns due to the idiot Congress and Obamacare. I believe job losses will increase due to these costs, and the newly unemployed will know exactly why their jobs disappeareed...I mean, failed to respond to the resusitation effrorts of Obamacare and insane profligate spending.

    Hmm. Something looks funny. My spelling must be off. Damn Jack Daniels!

  2. Obama has turned out to be a big disappointment, even moderate right wingers were rooting for him when he got elected he looked fresh and bubbling over with new ideas. He has however proved to be just another left winger who is also naive and inept, his cultural background has given him an unbalanced perspective of the the world and his term in office will be marked with economic and social failure at home and America's standing abroad will be considerably weakened.

  3. When I was younger, I used to believe that congress critters said and did stupid things because they thought it conducive to getting elected. That was naive- most of them are genuinely stupid; it shows in the work product and in the rhetoric. Obama really did believe there were 57 states and that people spoke Austrian.Not that there aren't people who make Obama look like Einstein:

    God help us.