FPI Policy Advisor Abe Greenwald: Bullies R’ Us

The Obama administration’s bullies-first foreign policy is chipping away at all that international adoration for the president who was supposed to restore America’s global standing.

Our democratic friends in Eastern Europe are speaking up:

“Now we see the beginning of indifference,” said Tudo Salajean, a Romanian historian and researcher.

At times, and from some corners, the new mood can even border on hostile. Obama’s approaches to pressing world problems “aren’t worth a moldy onion,” declared Mircea Mihaies, deputy head of the Romanian Cultural Institute.

The metaphor has heartbreaking significance. When generations of your population have known state-imposed hunger, rotten foodstuffs can conjure up palpable misery. It was principled American policy that helped free Eastern Europeans from Soviet oppression, and it’s cowardly American policy that’s now scaring the daylights out of our allies.

Czech and Polish leaders bristle at America’s new ambivalence over a Bush administration plan to base a missile defense shield in the two ex-communist countries. The system, which would put ten interceptor rockets in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, had been touted as a strategic way to counter a threat from Iran.

But recently, senior U.S. Defense Department officials said they’re considering other options. The Czech-Polish plan had infuriated Russia, and the Obama administration has been working to improve relations with the Kremlin.

Not just “improve,” and not just the Kremlin. The administration is looking simply to please bullies around the world, whatever the cost to our allies or ideals: in Eastern Europe, we side with an expansionist Kremlin over our democratic friends; in Israel, we add our voice to the lunatic chorus that sees settlement growth as the most pressing issue in the region; in Honduras, we support the bullying Manuel Zelaya in his effort to subvert democracy; in Iran, we flatter murderous theocrats with offers of respect while voters brave batons and bullets in order to be heard.

Not sure moldy onions can make you cry enough for the metaphor to work.

Originally published on Commentary's blog.

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