Hyped as an internationally loved political superstar that would bring the world together, President Obama has so far underwhelmed and stumbled on the foreign relations front. Most recently was the surprisingly muted welcome to Gordon Brown at the White House, which along with the lame excuse of cold weather and a busy schedule was perceived as a snub, leading some to wonder if the “special relationship” with Britain was becoming strained. This goes along with the unceremonious return by Obama of a bronze bust of Winston Churchill that was presented to President Bush after the September 11th, a move that left many across the pond anxious and scratching their heads.
Note also the recent brush-off by Russia regarding Obama’s offer to drop the European missile shield in return for help in dealing with Iran. President Medvedev, though he welcomed the positive signals from the Obama administration, said he wouldn’t “haggle” and noted that linking the two issues “was unproductive.” It’s a sign that Obama is going to have to work extremely hard to push the Russians in a useful direction, as good intentions alone will apparently prove insufficient.
And speaking of Iran, it’s worth noting that the country took Obama’s offer of diplomacy as an indicator of American failure and demanded an apology for past US crimes. It shows that one-on-one diplomacy with Iran has little chance of success, which is why Obama tried to offer a carrot to the Russians for their help. It’s also why Hillary Clinton told a UAE diplomat that the diplomatic approach is unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which begs the question why the tactic is being pursued with such fervor in the first place. It is here I must excerpt Patterico’s brilliant response:
You don’t say.
What was your first clue?
So, what does that leave?
b) Let ‘em have the bomb.
c) Some other naive gesture that, like diplomacy, won’t do anything.
d) Let Israel handle it.
e) Your idea here.
This last bit brings all of it into sharp contrast. Obama seems to be unknowningly straining relations, albeit at this point on a superficial level, with a historically strong ally, only to unsuccessfully attempt to draw closer to Russia to try to deal with the threat of Iran, a threat that the administration itself apparently thinks cannot be dealt with diplomatically. It leaves me feeling less than confident in the haphazard rookie foreign policy approach that’s being formulated here. In the high stakes game of geopolitics, laced with the threat of terror and international war, there is little room for error. One can only hope we’ll see better in the future, but the Iran question will demand a strong resolve that I have yet to see.