December 4, 2016

The goatherd-in-chief

Surely you’ve heard Aesop’s fable about the Goatherd and the Wild Goats. In short, a goatherd finds a herd wild goats mixed among his own goats. Over the winter he takes good care of the wild goats at the expense of properly caring for his own goats. As soon as the weather warms up, the wild goats leave. As they leave he protests, “how can you leave when I took such good care of you?” One of the wild goats responds, “We saw how well you took care of your original flock after we came; we don’t plan to wait around until you find new goats and neglect us!”

On Friday, Charles Krauthammer presented the list of allies that President Obama has slighted in his time in office:

Of course, given how the administration has treated other allies, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised.

— Obama visits China and soon Indonesia, skipping India, our natural and rising ally in the region — common language, common democracy, common jihadist enemy. Indeed, in his enthusiasm for China, Obama suggests a Chinese interest in peace and stability in South Asia, a gratuitous denigration of Indian power and legitimacy in favor of a regional rival with hegemonic ambitions.

— Poland and the Czech Republic have their legs cut out from under them when Obama unilaterally revokes a missile defense agreement, acquiescing to pressure from Russia with its dreams of regional hegemony over Eastern Europe.

— The Hondurans still can’t figure out why the United States supported a Hugo Chávez ally seeking illegal extension of his presidency against the pillars of civil society — Honduras’s Congress, Supreme Court, church and army — that had deposed him consistent with Article 239 of their constitution.

But the Brits, our most venerable, most reliable ally, are the most disoriented. “We British not only speak the same language. We tend to think in the same way. We are more likely than anyone else to provide tea, sympathy and troops,” writes Bruce Anderson in London’s Independent, summarizing with admirable concision the fundamental basis of the U.S.-British special relationship.

And it goes without saying that the President has been absolutely awful towards Israel. But that’s something that Dr. Krauthammer covered two weeks earlier.

So why this astonishing one-sidedness? Because Obama likes appeasing enemies while beating up on allies — therefore Israel shouldn’t take it personally (according to Robert Kagan)? Because Obama wants to bring down the current Israeli coalition government (according to Jeffrey Goldberg)?

Or is it because Obama fancies himself the historic redeemer whose irresistible charisma will heal the breach between Christianity and Islam or, if you will, between the post-imperial West and the Muslim world — and has little patience for this pesky Jewish state that brazenly insists on its right to exist, and even more brazenly on permitting Jews to live in its ancient, historical and now present capital?

So President Obama has been slapping down allies and coddling enemies. How’s that second part been working out? I mean other than Syria publicly mocking the administration’s efforts at outreach? Press TV, an officialy Iranian outlet is now comparing President Obama to his predecessor!

Mr. Ahmadinejad also said there is little difference between the administrations of Mr. Obama and his predecessor.

“They say ‘we have extended our hands to the people of Iran but the government of Iran and the people of Iran pushed it back’. What hand did you extend towards us?” he said Saturday after inaugurating a factory in Sirjan.

“Did you lift the sanctions? Did you stop the adverse propaganda machine? Did you ease the pressure? Did you change your attitude in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine?”

Iran has always welcomed negotiations with the West, but it remains steadfast in safeguarding its national interests. The country says even international sanctions will not deter its pursuit of nuclear energy.

“[L]ittle difference … between … Mr. Obama and his predecessor?” Insults don’t come much graver than that. I wonder if that will get the President’s –  uh – goat.