I think I’ve found the “unified field theory” of President Obama’s foreign policy. And it’s as short-sighted, shallow, simplistic, and stupid as I feared.
Let’s take a look at how the Obama administration relates to just three countries. The other day, I pointed out yet another way they are essentially flipping the bird at Great Britain at every opportunity. A very long-time ally, a nation whose friendship has been a tremendous asset over the years, and Obama seems intent on playing the passive-aggressive game to push them away from us.
There’s also a hefty amount of frost on our relations with Israel. Obama has essentially said that he thinks a nuclear-armed Iran is inevitable, so the world should just relax and try to enjoy it. He’s also been far more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to the Israelis, and has also played the cool, passive-aggressive game with Israel as well.
And in one case that I had overlooked until the other day, Obama has not been overly kind to India. One might even say that he’s treated the world’s largest democracy like he’s treated Las Vegas — a convenient scapegoat and whipping boy for economic problems.
Why have our relations with these nations eroded over the last year or so?
Not to get too Zen, but the answer lies within the question.
In this context, “eroded” means “not as good as they were before.” And “before” the decline was eight years of the Bush administration.
You remember those eight years, when pretty much every other nation in the world hated and feared us? Well, if you looked beyond the media spin, you’d see that during those times the Bush administration actually improved our relations with certain select nations. Three of them were Great Britain, Israel, and India — two of whom had once been controlled by the British before their independence.
There’s a geopolitical concept that I haven’t delved too deeply into that I find somewhat elegantly appealing — the notion of the “Anglosphere.” These are nations that have some historic ties to Great Britain — former colonies or other places once dominated by the British. And they are among the most wealthy, successful, and freest places in the world.
Canada. Ireland. Israel. Australia. India. South Africa. New Zealand. Hong Kong. Singapore. And the biggest, most successful former English colony of them all, the United States.
One of the problems with this notion is that it implicitly endorses the colonial era and the imperialism of the British, and the notion that the imposed imperialist culture is superior to that of the indigenous culture. One classic example was when General Sir Charles Napier was confronted with the traditon of “suttee” (now spelled “sati”), the throwing of a widow on to the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. General Napier addressed it thus:
“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
This sort of thing sends liberals into hysterics. How DARE we impose our moral beliefs and standards on others? It still echoes today, whenever anyone brings up such topics as how Islam treats women, gays, and other various “unclean” infidels.
But it’s a hard fact to dispute — a nation that has a lengthy history of ties to the British Empire is far, far more likely to be a successful nation than one that never suffered under the whip of John Bull.
So with that as a form of intellectual “cover,” the Obama administration is rationalizing its true motive for its foreign policy — to “punish” those nations that were so foolish as to seek good relations with the Bush administration. Since everything that their predecessors was so inherently and irredeemably evil, then those nations that got along with Bush are obviously bad, too.
Conversely, those that gave Bush the most headaches obviously recognized the sheer badness that was Bush, and they would be the most amenable to recognizing how wonderful Obama and his people are. Hence the thoroughly-rebuffed outreaches to Venezuela and Iran, and Hillary Clinton’s tacitly siding with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
As I alliterated at the outset, this overarching theme to Obama’s foreign policy is short-sighted, simplistic, shallow, and stupid. And my analysis here probably qualifies for at least half of those adjectives.
What bothers me is that it also seems to be accurate.