Obama’s Folly: Courting Our Enemies and Criticizing Ourselves

Obama’s Folly: Courting Our Enemies and Criticizing Ourselves

The first hundred days is an artificial benchmark for assessing presidential performance. In foreign policy, Barack Obama has not had time to do much, and the moves he has made have yet to produce clear consequences. He has, however, set a tone. It is reminiscent of the approach George W. Bush proposed in his 2000 campaign debate with Al Gore when he said, "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation . . . they'll welcome us."

Whether Mr. Bush's foreign policy would have embodied that prescription had Osama bin Laden's minions not struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we'll never know. As things turned out, after 9/11, Mr. Bush's declaration and prosecution of a global war on terror, with its bellicose rhetoric and military action unblessed by the U.N. Security Council, struck many non-Americans as the very opposite of Bush's earlier formula.

Mr. Obama's principal goal seems to be to reverse that legacy by bold demonstrations of American humility. Thus he traveled to Europe, where he mugged it up with other heads of government and bowed low to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah -- although not to the Queen of England. He pointed blame at the United States for the global financial crisis and for global warming, and applauded the fact that America's ability to determine the world's responses to these problems has been reduced.

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