Foreign Affairs

Presidential Groveling

President Obama’s recent whirlwind overseas tour did little to restore respect for America among friends or foes, despite adoring crowds who treated him like a rock star wherever he went. For a man who hasn’t an ounce of personal humility, the president makes up for it by being downright obsequious when it comes to recounting his country’s supposed transgressions. In his globetrotting speeches, Obama reviled the United States’ history of slavery, the mistreatment of Indians and alleged torture of terrorists. He hinted that his predecessor had engaged in a war with Islam, but promised that he — Barack Hussein Obama, as he was introduced to Muslim audiences everywhere — would never let that happen again.

Instead of insisting that our NATO allies carry their share of the burden in Afghanistan, he practically begged them to please send more combat troops to add to the 21,000 additional American troops. And in arguing for a nuclear-free world, he even suggested that maybe the United States should put aside its nukes, as if the United States were the problem when it comes to nuclear proliferation.

So how did the world respond? Our European friends turned a polite but deaf ear to Obama’s entreaties: No more combat troops for Afghanistan, no more stimulus dollars to help rescue the worldwide economy. Our erstwhile Pakistani partners in the war on terror — oops, the "overseas contingency operations" in Obamaspeak — told us they aren’t making any promises to use $7.5 billion in U.S. aid to actually fight the Taliban and al-Qaida in the tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border. And those were the friendlier reactions.

Across the globe, the North Koreans chose to use the occasion of the president’s overseas travels to launch a missile demonstrating their ability to deliver nuclear weapons as far away as the U.S. West Coast. Meanwhile, the Chinese, Russians, and others as yet unidentified, have hacked into the U.S. power grid recently in the most serious cyber attack on the country ever. National security officials confirmed to The Wall Street Journal this week that cyber-spies have not only infiltrated our electric grid but have left behind software aimed at disrupting our electrical delivery system during a crisis or war.

And then there are the Iranians. Remember President Obama’s olive branches to this crew? First, he promised in the campaign that he would sit down with the Iranians with no pre-conditions. And in February he sent a secret letter to Russian President Medvedev promising to renege on the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in Eastern Europe if the Russians could persuade the Iranians to forego their nuclear weapons program.

When that gambit flopped, this week the State Department announced that indeed the U.S. would sit down in direct talks with the Iranians along with the Germans and representatives of the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. And how did the Iranians respond to our friendly overtures? By charging an American-born journalist with spying and holding a secret trial whose results could be catastrophic for the young woman.

Pardon me if I’m unimpressed by the president’s international prowess so far. When will the left learn that self-flagellation and blame-America-first rhetoric isn’t enough to buy the love of our enemies? And even our friends can turn quisling when we show no spine.

If President Obama wants to restore America’s reputation, he can start by showing strength, not weakness. He’s made the right decision by increasing our commitment to fight terrorists in Afghanistan. Now he has to make it clear to the Pakistanis that if they want our aid, it comes with strings — namely, taking on the terrorists in their tribal regions.  

President Obama needs to learn that being loved by the world is not nearly as important as earning respect — and that comes by honoring our commitments to our allies and punishing those who threaten our peace and security.

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