Monday, August 3, 2009

Do all the world's countries really love the Obama administration? A Survey

By Barry Rubin

A recent article lists seven countries, aside from Israel, where it argues relations with the U.S. have declined since Obama took office. In doing so, it was responding to a Washington Post editorial lavishing praise on the Obama administration and saying relations are better with every country in the world except Israel.

Shockingly, the Post's main "proof" that relations with other countries improved is public opinion polls saying Obama is more popular than Bush. Before January 20 would any serious policy analyst or journalist have argued that this is the main element in relations between two countries? Haven't these people ever heard the expression, "Nice guys finish last"?

The list of seven countries offered by the article includes: Canada (trade disputes), China (worries over the U.S. economy), Colombia (trade), Honduras (coup), Panama and South Korea (both trade), and the United Kingdom (snubs and calling into question the special relationship).

BUT I think it leaves out a lot of others:

Russia: The government there has contempt for Obama. He isn't so popular among the public either. U.S.-Russia relations, stable under previous administration though hardly warm, are deteriorating.

Central Europe: Former top leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and the Slovak Republic expressed worry about the Obama administration's lack of support for them and fear it will cave into Russian demands.

Georgia and Azerbaijan could probably be added to that list. Possibly Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrghziistan, and Turkmenistan could be included, too.

Gulf Arabs: Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar, worried about Obama's engagement policy with Iran.

Lebanon: Worried about Obama's engagement policy with Syria.

Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia: Worried about Obama's possible engagement policy with Islamists.

Aside from Jordan, I don't think there's any moderate Arab country that ever seemed ecstatic that Obama is president. And now even Jordan (like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) has publicly--publicly--stated that it will make no gesture toward Israel despite the administration's request. If they had any respect for Obama they and the Saudis would at least have kept their rejection private.

Asia: South Korea is worried that Obama won't defend it from North Korea, as well as U.S. trade protectionism; Japan about management of the economy. The trade issue also applies to other Asian states, like Thailand, who's well-being depends to a large extent on exports to the United States.

Iran: Has Obama really improved relations? The Iranian regime mistrusts him. Even if you argue that it fears engagement, well ok that means it is still made more nervous by Obama's policy.

As for Pakistan, where the Obama Administration has lavished money, the total increase in the popularity of America since Obama took office is 1 percent and polls show very hostile attitudes.

Even in cases where governments "like" Obama--notably Europe and especially France--don't they do so precisely because they think they can walk all over him?

That same criterion could also be applied to radical and anti-American regimes: North Korea, Cuba, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

And is Latin America in general really on better terms with the United States than a year ago?

As for sub-Saharan Africa, Obama's popularity no doubt benefits from the fact that he is an actual direct African-American. No doubt, it hopes for dramatically increased help and attention from America.

Other enthusiasts might be Turkey (whose current government, however, is no warm friend of the United States), Australia (because it has a Labour government), Pakistan (on which the administration is lavishing money), aforementioned European states, and a few others.

But that overall picture is still hardly one of universal improvement, certainly not a springtime for American diplomacy.

What is equally disturbing is the willingness of large sectors of the American policy elite to throw away their independent and critical judgment when it comes to this administration. Either they are lying because they support the government, intimidated, or hypnotized.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.