In watching Barack Obama’s apology tour unfold over the past few weeks, I’ve been wondering two things.
On one level, I’ve been wondering just how low he can bow. He’s grovelled before the Europeans, the Saudis, the Turks, the Mexicans, and now the leaders of Latin America. He’s apologised for America’s being “arrogant,” “derisive,” and “dismissive” to her so-called allies in Europe. In Turkey, he trashed his predecessor. In Mexico, he declared that the United States is largely responsible for Mexico’s on-going drug war. In Latin America this past weekend, Mr. Obama was practically prostrate, standing mute while Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega criticised America for its past tyranny and then accepted an anti-American screed from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. In reply, Obama apologised for America’s habit of trying to “dictate our terms” to other countries. Apparently, Obama has missed the irony of apologising for America’s dictatorial regime to a group of dictators. The fact that Latin America has produced a steady succession of leaders whose power is dependent on graft, death squads, ballot-fixing, and military thuggery seems entirely lost on Mr. Obama.
On another level, however, I have been wondering just what Mr. Obama has been attempting to achieve by all this. Commentators on the left keep assuring us that Obama’s new openess will pay dividends; but so far, the benefits have been elusive. Obama went to Europe seeking the allies’ help on the economy, Iran and Afghanistan. He got none of it. His calls for more economic spending were rejected, even by the French and Germans. His request for more assistance in Afghanistan was answered with a robust commitment from Nato: The French will send 150 MP’s. So much for paying dividends, and so much for the new “equal partnership.” Similarly, Obama’s apology to Mexico got him nothing. Mexican president Calderon took no responsibility for Mexico’s problems, preferring instead to demand better treatment for illegal Mexican immigrants. In Latin America, he got lectures about American arrogance but nothing of substance on any issue.
All of this leaves one wondering whether Obama’s presidency thus far is largely about Obama. America’s interests have taken a back seat to Obama’s desire to sell himself. He revels in the love and adulation that comes from trashing his own country. Anti-Americanism has always been fashionable in the salons of Europe. It is wildy so when an American president casts the first stone. It’s equally hard to resist the allure of adoring crowds of young people screaming your name and asking you to sign their t-shirts. If all it takes to get that rush is to say a few nasty words about your own county, then what’s the harm? It’s all in good fun. More importantly, going to Europe and delivering speeches is a lot easier than staying home and trying to solve the country’s problems.
The Obama self-love fest crossed the line this week with the release of the so-called CIA “torture memos.” The release of these memos served no real purpose. The practises described in them have been stopped. If Obama wanted to make a statement declaring his opposition to them, he could have done so. Moreover, Obama released the memos in spite of the fact that six directors of the CIA —- including his own appointee —- advised against doing so. It’s clear that the only point in releasing the memos was to burnish Obama’s image. Doing so was just another opportunity to preen and to demonstrate anew his exquisite sense of righteousness before an adoring left.
Until now, the seemingly endless self-promotion has been relatively harmless, at least directly. In time, of course, the Europeans and others will conclude that Obama can be rolled. America will certainly pay a diplomatic price in the future because Obama’s fecklessness will eventually embolden the world’s bad actors, just as Kennedy’s disastrous meeting with Nikita Kruschev helped bring on the Cuban missle crisis. In the short term, however, leaking the CIA memos and threatening prosecution of those involved will do real and lasting damage to America’s intelligence gathering capabilities. The fact remains that Mr. Obama’s insatiable desire for the approbation of leftist elites has made the nation less secure.
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