While in the United States the news from the Summit of the Americas involved a prostitute scandal, on the other side of the ocean it was about Obama’s continuing determination to undermine America’s allies. After Prime Minister Cameron’s last humiliating outing with Obama, all he had to show for it was a supposed assurance of neutrality, which the bumbling prime minister attempted to spin into support for the status quo and self-determination for the islanders. It was however no such thing.
When asked, at a joint conference with the President of Colombia, about the Falklands, Obama said curtly that he was remaining completely neutral. Last month while visiting Ground Zero, Prime Minister Cameron had pitifully tried to assure reporters that while Obama might not be for the legal rights of the islanders, he wasn’t actively against them. This may even be a victory of sorts as Hector Timerman, Argentina’s leftist Minister of Foreign Relations, had earlier suggested that the Obama administration had been the most favorable to Argentina’s claims to date.
Obama’s obnoxious behavior is all the more senseless because while there isn’t very much that the United States needs from Argentina, it needs to maintain a good level of cooperation with the UK. Last year the UK lost one soldier to every ten American soldiers in Afghanistan. This year it’s more like one to five. If Obama wants any kind of orderly retreat from Afghanistan, he needs the cooperation and help of a country where the war is even more unpopular than it is here. Then there’s the plan by both leaders to stabilize their political situation with a release of oil from their strategic reserves.
Argentina on the other hand is facing major economic problems and last month the administration was forced to suspend trade benefits due to money owed to two American companies. One of the companies, Blue Ridge Investments, is a subsidiary of Bank of America. Warren Buffett is a major investor in the latter. If Obama could take such an unprecedented step in defense of Warren Buffett’s financial interests, why not take a smaller one for an international ally?
As a further display of cynicism, the Obama administration took a position against a ruling by Judge Thomas Griesa obligating Argentina to make payments to Elliott Management Corporation. EMC is run by Paul Singer, who is a major Republican donor. Singer has already given a million to Romney’s SuperPAC and Fortune Magazine has described him as the Wall Street figure whose support is most crucial to the Romney campaign. It’s in Obama’s own interest to handicap Singer and reward Buffett, and that is exactly what the administration appears to have done.
Obama isn’t unwilling to alienate Argentina for his own culture of corruption, trashing international trade to see to it that his friends get paid and his enemies don’t. He just does not appear to care enough to make the most minimal gesture toward the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Cameron. Cameron, like Brown, has shamelessly humiliated himself before Obama, and taken home nothing for it.
A single word from Obama might make a repetition of the Falklands War less likely by an Argentine government sensing weakness. UK defense officials have already questioned the outcome of a second conflict on the thirtieth anniversary of the war. A statement that the United States will support its ally, whose men are dying for it in Afghanistan, would have gone a long way toward keeping the peace.
This has become an unfortunate pattern by an administration that makes so many bad decisions that it is often hard to tell whether it is being willfully destructive or mindlessly clueless. Obama’s intervention in the French election in support of Sarkozy was an arrogant misstep that Bush would never have made. Pandering to Russia yet again is a move that is almost as futile as trying to dictate to the Eurozone or negotiate with North Korea. And Obama has done all three.
The North Korean negotiations were a particularly senseless move after a long history of similar failures and yet when North Korea launched its missile, Obama only said, “They’ve been trying to launch missiles like this for over a decade now and they don’t seem to be real good at it.” The same might be said of Democrats and foreign policy, except it would be more like two decades.
Some pundits predicted a hard line attitude from the White House on Iran. Instead fresh off the farce of North Korea negotiations, Obama lurched into nuclear talks with Iran hosted by Islamist thugs who are some of the regime’s best Sunni friends. Netanyahu accused Obama of giving Iran a “freebie” while Obama retorted, just as he had on North Korea, that nothing was being given away. Not counting the extra time for Iran to continue developing its nuclear program.
Iran has had to make no concessions and its proposal to hold the next round of talks in Baghdad has been accepted. If the West wasn’t being run by men too dumb to put on their own pants without assistance, the lead players might realize that Iran was stating that it now controls Iraq and is inviting the former occupiers into its own turf. Instead the diplomats will dutifully troop from territory that they once controlled to territory now controlled by Prime Minister Maliki, Iran’s man in Baghdad, without understanding that simplest of messages.
While the press spins the talks as some sort of Iranian concession, on the Iranian side, the head of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy described it as a defeat for the West. Either way the Iranian centrifuges keep spinning and that’s the real point. Anonymous sources keep suggesting to the press that Iran is prepared to accept some smaller number than 20 percent enrichment, but Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator has already said at a press conference in Istanbul that his government has no intention of doing any such thing. But who are you going to believe, the anonymous sources who tell the press that Obama is on the right track or Iran’s chief negotiator?
All the participants have described the talks as “constructive” and news articles trumpet a statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader that Obama had finally taken “an exit from delusion” in believing that he could defeat Iran. A Newsweek article praises this as “one of the most positive comments he had made about the United States since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.”
Left standing with a knife in his back, is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who didn’t expect Obama to sign on to a strike on Iran, but is recognizing that there is no level of interference too great for the White House. At least to his credit, he didn’t abase himself the way that Cameron did. Both Israel and the UK have been screwed by Washington D.C., but the Israeli Prime Minister at least retained his dignity.
If that is how traditionally close allies like the UK and Israel are being treated, there’s no hope for anyone else. Eastern European allies already knew they had been sold out before the “hot mic” incident and the message to Vladimir, that shameful moment just brought it home to them.
The Philippines-US war games have begun, but China isn’t impressed. Unlike China’s leaders, Obama has yet to make a definitive statement on the South China Sea, except to urge all parties in question to work it out peacefully. Not the sort of language that’s likely to warn China off bullying smaller countries.
Meanwhile shortly after Obama’s arrival, bombs went off near the US Embassy in Bogota. It would have been the perfect setting for Obama to make a strong statement about terrorism, but instead he once again ducked. After having betrayed so many allies, what was one more betrayal to add to the toll?
Having betrayed every ally, the foreign policy of this administration has not actually won any new friends. Obama may whisper sweet nothings to Medvedev or approve another round of talks with Kim Jr or the Supreme Leader, but gets nothing in return for it. And never gets held accountable for it by a press that is eager to forget his failures while looking forward to foreign policy triumphs that never come to pass.