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Does The World Really Think Less Of The U.S. Due To Obama’s Foreign Policy?

President Obama Addresses The Nation On The Situation In Syria

When one listens to Republican criticisms of the President’s foreign policy,  a common refrain these days, along with the general criticisms about the President’s weakness in the face of Russia, Iran, and other threats, is the idea that our nation’s image around the world has been diminished thanks to the President’s foreign policy. There is, of course, a large degree of chutzpah in this statement given the fact that, by the end of the Bush Administration, America’s image around the world had declined precipitously thanks to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners, and what many around the world saw as the inhumane conditions at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.  Indeed, at least initially, President Obama’s election and Inauguration were greeted in many parts of the world with much acclaim and, in at least some measurable ways, the reputation of the United States around the world did in fact increase.

Since then, conservatives would have us believe, the President’s foreign policy has caused the world to lose respect for the United States, and for dangerous states around the world from North Korea, to Russia, to Iran to take advantage of that fact. To some extent, there does seem to be some truth in this statement, at least as far as the Islamic world is concerned. In that part of the world, the combination of the U.S.’s continued support for Israel and the President’s drone war against al Qaeda and its affiliates has kept public opinion about the United States relatively low. As Peter Beinart notes at The Atlantic, however, a look at the numbers shows that there isn’ t much merit to the contention that America’s image abroad has been damaged by Obama’s policies:

[W]hen Cheney says world opinion is “increasingly negative” and Rove detects “declining confidence” in the United States, it’s hard not to ask the obvious question: compared to when? In fact, while faith in the United States, and in Obama personally, has declined modestly since 2009, it is still dramatically higher than when Cheney and Rove roamed the West Wing.

For more than a decade, the Pew Research Center has been asking people around the world about their opinion of the United States. The upshot: In every region of the globe except the Middle East (where the United States was wildly unpopular under George W. Bush and remains so), America’s favorability is way up since Obama took office. In Spain, approval of the United States is 29 percentage points higher than when Bush left office. In Italy, it’s up 23 points. In Germany and France, it’s 22. With the exception of China, where the numbers have remained flat, the trend is the same in Asia. The U.S. is 19 points more popular in Japan, 24 points more popular in Indonesia, and 28 points more popular in Malaysia. Likewise among the biggest powers in Latin America and Africa: Approval of the United States has risen 19 points in Argentina and 12 points in South Africa. (For some reason, there’s no Bush-era data on this question for Brazil or Nigeria).

In his Hannity interview, Cheney attributed America’s supposedly deteriorating reputation to Obama personally. “If we have a problem with weakness,” he explained, “it’s stemming from the White House.” But, in fact, the guy in the White House retains a personal brand that outshines America’s as a whole. And when you compare global perceptions of Obama to global perceptions of Cheney’s old boss, the gap is jaw-dropping.

Again, the numbers come from Pew, which has been asking people in key countries every year whether they have “confidence” in America’s president to “do the right thing in world affairs.” Obama’s popularity is down since 2009. Still, in Mexico and Argentina, the president’s 2013 numbers (the most recent we have) are 33 percentage points higher than Bush’s in 2008. In South Korea, the margin is 47 points. In Japan, it’s 45 points. In Brazil, it’s 52 points. In Britain, it’s 56 points. In France, it’s 70 points. In Germany, it’s 74 points.

In case you’re reading quickly, 74 points isn’t Obama’s approval rating in Germany. It’s the gap between his approval rating and Bush’s. In George W.’s final year in office, 14 percent of Germans had faith that the president of the United States would do the right thing internationally. Last year, 88 percent did.

And the difference is just as stark when you look at the difference between world public opinion today and during the Bush Administration, as this chart from Pew poll demonstrates:

Pew Poll Chart

When you look at numbers then, the argument that President Obama has damaged the standing of the United States around the world doesn’t really seem to hold water. In fact, worldwide public opinion about the United States seems to have improved markedly since the Bush Administration and does not seem to have declined precipitously under Obama. This is somewhat surprising, perhaps, given the generally negative opinion that other nations have regarding the U.S. drone war, and the overwhelmingly negative reaction in Europe to last year’s revelations about National Security Agency spying on European civilians and leaders. Obviously, there are still many countries where the general opinion of the U.S. is negative, but beyond those specific cases there’s simply no support for the contention that Cheney and others have made that the President’s policies have damaged the country.

As Beinert goes on to note, though, the conservative critique of Obama goes beyond the issue of international public opinion:

In his Hannity interview, Cheney cited discussions he’d had with world leaders, who supposedly pine for the Bush era. There may be some. Certainly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would love to turn back the clock to a time when the United States made little effort to midwife a Palestinian state. The Saudis and some other Gulf monarchies might have been happier before the U.S. began serious diplomacy with Iran, since an American-Iranian rapprochement would leave the United States less dependent on them.

But in most of the world, popular opinion influences policy. When Obama wants the assistance of Indonesia or Malaysia or South Africa in fighting jihadists or cracking down on Iranian banks, it helps that their leaders aren’t embarrassed to be seen with him.

Or consider the recent crisis between the West and Russia, in which the United States successfully pushed Germany and Britain to back sanctions aimed at preventing Putin from destabilizing Ukraine, even though those sanctions interfere with Germany and Britain’s lucrative ties to Moscow. There is evidence that those sanctions helped convince Putin to back off.

Could George W. Bush have pushed the Europeans as far? I doubt it. Remember that in 2002, Bush was so unpopular in Germany that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made his opposition to the Iraq War the centerpiece of his reelection campaign. When Schroeder won, Bush declined to offer him the customary congratulatory phone call. Schroeder’s justice minister compared Bush to Hitler. And to the delight of most Europeans, Germany allied with France to thwart America’s effort to get United Nations support for an invasion of Iraq.

In that environment, would Bush really have managed to convince Berlin to slap sanctions on Russia that cut against Germany’s short-term economic self-interest, as Obama has? I doubt it, because Germans wouldn’t have seen much of a difference between what Putin was doing and what Bush was.

One response to Beinart here that seems fair, of course, is to point out that Bush ended up having a far better relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she came to power in 2005, and the relationship between the United States and Germany improved significantly at that point. At the same time, I suspect that Beinert is correct that, principally because of the Iraq War, Bush would have had difficulty pulling reluctant allies along on an issue like sanctions against Russia. It might not have been impossible, but it most assuredly been much more difficult thanks to the fact that much of the moral credibility that the United States had was squandered on a foolish expedition in Iraq.

There is plenty about President Obama’s foreign policy to be concerned about, and plenty about it that has been less than successful in recent years. However, if we’re talking about the question of whether or not the ability of the United States to work together with the rest of the world to achieve common goals has been harmed or improved over the past five years, the argument that his policies have harmed the influence of the U.S. in world affairs seems  to lack any concrete evidence outside of the claims of a former Vice-President who, in all honesty, doesn’t have all that much credibility himself.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Davebo says:

    There’s little evidence for almost every claim made by conservatives these days.

    Why should this be any different?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

  2. gVOR08 says:

    In you’re clip, Beinart starts right off quoting Cheney and Rove. You said of Cheney, and could have said of Rove, he “…doesn’t have all that much credibility himself.” Actually, let’s be honest, they both lie like rugs. The whole ‘Obama has lost respect in the world’ thing is just a Republican lie. OK, I expect them to lie. What’s disturbing is that, given the well known facts you and Beinart present, the press don’t immediately call them on their lies. There’s that liberal MSM again.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  3. John425 says:

    They probably think better of us because they root for our failure. Middle East? A mess. Syria? Outlook bleak. Germany? No respect there, for sure. The U.K.? Barack who? South America? Viva Los Dictators!, Asia? China laughs at us. Ditto North Korea. Pakistan? Keep them dollars rolling in. Canada? Goodbye pipeline. Mexico? US deemed a prime market for labor exports.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 33

  4. DrDaveT says:

    by the end of the Bush Administration, America’s image around the world had declined precipitously thanks to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners, and what many around the world saw as the inhumane conditions at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay

    You left out the Patriot Act, Doug, which was the legislative equivalent of a published manifesto to the rest of the world saying “All that stuff we said about the relative merits of liberty and safety — we take it back.” You can explain away stupid; you can’t explain away cowardly.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  5. al-Ameda says:

    In his Hannity interview, Cheney cited discussions he’d had with world leaders, who supposedly pine for the Bush era. There may be some. Certainly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would love to turn back the clock to a time when the United States made little effort to midwife a Palestinian state. The Saudis and some other Gulf monarchies might have been happier before the U.S. began serious diplomacy with Iran, since an American-Iranian rapprochement would leave the United States less dependent on them.

    Since when has Dick Cheney been considered a source of sound and sensible observations concerning Israel, the Middle East and Iran?

    Netanyahu no doubt, is extremely pleased that Cheney ginned up a phony pretext to go to war in Iraq and in so doing waged a war that caused the balance of power in the region to shift to Iran. Of course Netanyahu misses that kind of American leadership.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  6. CB says:

    Does The World Really Think Less Of The U.S. Due To Obama’s Foreign Policy?

    Well yes, if they’re idiots with no sense of history or American foreign policy, they probably do.

    People that attach value judgements to headlines from which they draw absolute conclusions tend to be clueless. See above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  7. Grewgills says:

    a former Vice-President (Cheney) who, in all honesty, doesn’t have all that much credibility himself.

    I’m going out on a limb and calling that your understatement of the year.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  8. just me says:

    So bungling your way through Libya, Egypt and Syria is okay as long as people like you?

    Generally Obama’s foreign policy has been messy and weak and some moves are still too early to evaluate but popularity polls and good policy aren’t measuring the same thing. Putin has run circles around Obama.

    Obama has done a Pretty good job of pudding off Canada-the Keystone pipeline is something Canada wants but Obama won’t decide on. Canadians may like him better than Bush but once again popularity isn’t the same thing as policy.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 21

  9. mantis says:

    Wingnuts’ knowledge of foreign countries comes exclusively from media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. This should explain why their understanding of the topic, like their understanding of domestic events, is based on nonsense and rightwing propaganda (but I repeat myself).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  10. mantis says:

    @just me:

    Ah, the “if only we had a strong leader like Putin!” contingent has arrived. I hope you and your ilk don’t bother voting. You are a cancer on the body politic of the United States.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @just me:

    popularity polls and good policy aren’t measuring the same thing

    If you understand that, why are you talking about the one that isn’t the subject of this article?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @al-Ameda: I’m sure you’re right that the Saudi royal family would prefer to have W back. Or get Jeb. They had, presumably still have, extensive financial and personal ties with the Bushes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Bush,_House_of_Saud

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  13. anjin-san says:

    @ just me

    If Obama stated a war based on fiction, killed thousands of our troops and God only knows how many innocents abroad, changed the balance of power in a manner unfavorable to us, and squandered trillions in national treasure in the process, would you sleep soundly knowing we are “strong” and “decisive”?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @just me:

    So bungling your way through Libya, Egypt and Syria is okay as long as people like you?

    Why do you love Muammar Qaddafi?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @just me:

    So bungling your way through Libya, Egypt and Syria is okay as long as people like you?

    Please answer this question: how many American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have died in Libya, Egypt and Syria?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 5

  16. An Interested Party says:

    They probably think better of us because they root for our failure.

    Ohhhhh…so there’s no way that anything positive can be thought of the President…the rest of the world simply sucks? Got it…

    So bungling your way through Libya, Egypt and Syria is okay as long as people like you?

    The disaster in Iraq makes those “bunglings” seem like fabulous successes by comparison…no wonder the rest of the world thinks better of our current foreign policy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  17. anjin-san says:

    @ Just Me

    Putin has run circles around Obama

    You might want to do some reading about the impact of the Crimean affair on the Russian economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  18. anjin-san says:

    Obama has done a Pretty good job of pudding off Canada-the Keystone pipeline is something Canada wants

    I don’t care what Canada wants, I care what is good for America. Keystone equals Canadian profits, American environmental impact, and more oil for China. Where exactly is our big win in this deal?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @John425:

    So you’ve just been presented with evidence that completely contradicts your points. Aaaaaaaand right back to believing what’s just been debunked.

    People like you amaze me. What do you think your brain is for? Seriously. Why do you bother to have one? Is it just there to keep your heart beating and to tell you when you need to take a crap?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @just me:

    Actually, Putin has hurt himself and his country and gained nothing. At the same time, we’ve strengthened our relationships and lost nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  21. wr says:

    @just me: ” popularity polls and good policy aren’t measuring the same thing. ”

    Actually, popularity polls are a measure of, well, popularity. “Good policy” is just an opinion. So only one is measuring anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  22. michael reynolds says:

    In fact, just to expand on Putin, he now controls the physical space of Crimea. He adds some oil and gas. He got the bases he already had.

    In the process he alarmed all of his neighbors – Europe, the ‘Stans, China, and by extension the US. His entire “we’re part of the community of nations” policy that he’s spent years promulgating with the Olympics and the G87 lies bleeding in an alley. Now the whole world realizes Russia is its old nasty self, the sullen drunk just waiting to pick a bar fight. So the last decade or so of Russian policy is dead.

    Europe and the US are re-arming to an extent in Poland for sure and probably the Baltic countries. Europe is thinking hard about weaning itself off Russian gas. Putin is crawling to the Chinese taking a lousy gas deal because he had no choice, but of course the Chinese are bigger than he is, so instead of playing junior partner to Germany, he’s playing still more junior partner to China. So not an improvement.

    And of course Ukraine, which had been split between pro-Europe and pro-Russian factions is now united behind a pro-Europe, scared-of-Russia view.

    And the US? We’ve been hurt. . . how exactly? By the Europeans rushing to find alternative markets for gas? Like, say, us? Or is it the additional arms we’ll sell to Europe and the ‘Stans and Turkey? Or is it the fact that Iran’s mullahs just woke up to the fact that they’ve got reckless hot dog on their border and maybe it would be a good idea to have a superpower friend?

    Putin’s a blundering buffoon. Russian leaders generally are and Putin is very much in that same mold.

    But so long as he’s white and our president is not the right wing will love Putin.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  23. LaMont says:

    @anjin-san:

    Where exactly is our big win in this deal?

    You don’t know??? 10,000 jobs! U.S. economy fixed!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  24. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But so long as he’s white and our president is not the right wing will love Putin.

    You had me up until the last line. With either Clinton in office rather than Obama we would be hearing the same howls from that quarter of the right. Putin is authoritarian, outspokenly pro old school Christianity, anti-gay, and styles himself the virile antidote to modern multicultural weak Western culture. He is their wet dream, if only he were ‘Murican. Race is a secondary issue that plays to a part of the base, it is not the primary driver.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  25. Matt Bernius says:

    @Grewgills:
    Bingo.

    Without a doubt, there is definitely some critique of the president from the right that is rooted in or expressed via racial animus.

    That said, most of the attacks have far more to do with the “D” next to his name than the color of his skin. I tend to think that most, if not all, of the stuff around Putin falls into this category latter.

    (And yes, it’s possible to legitimately attack/critique the presidency based on policy — however, such attacks in mainstream conservative circles don’t happen regularly enough).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  26. C. Clavin says:

    In order to make the claims Republicans make on this, and on most topics, you have to either:
    1). believe in nonsense or,
    2). lie.
    There aren’t any other choices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Grewgills:

    I don’t think race is the sole driver, but it is the substructure at very least. The right waited a while to hate Clinton. They hated Obama from the very first photograph. And they hate him in particular, apolitical ways. Only Obama has ever been accused of literally not being an American, of not being legally entitled to be POTUS, of actually having loyalties to enemies of the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  28. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: I remember Bush I and II portrayed as more loyal to the Saudis than the US, and Clinton accused of becoming a Soviet spy during a student tour. I recall Bush accused of not being legally entitled to be POTUS. War heroes Eisenhower and Kennedy were accused of disloyalty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The right waited a while to hate Clinton.

    What do you consider “a while” MR? Cause, while I wasn’t as plugged in at that point, I’m pretty sure that by the time Clinton emerged as a viable national candidate the knuckle-dragger hate was on.

    Seriously, in terms of the Vince Foster thing, Clinton might have been ahead of Obama in irrational hate for just a little bit. And there was the entire 1993 Healthcare (Hillarycare) debacle.

    Only Obama has ever been accused of literally not being an American, of not being legally entitled to be POTUS, of actually having loyalties to enemies of the US.

    *Cough* Bush v. Gore? *Cough*
    *Cough* Stolen 2004 Election – Voting Irregularities in Ohio *Cough*
    *Cough* The people who are about to show up and tell me to get my head out of the sand and stop pretending that Bush didn’t *steal* both elections *Cough*

    But to your point, the *not American* and *friend of Terrorist* thing had everything to do with the color of the man’s skin and the sound of his name. Period. End of story.

    PS. Pinky, good catch on the Clinton Soviet Spy thing, totally had forgotten that bit of Limbaugh spread goodness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  30. michael reynolds says:

    Apropos of the Clintons, I found myself a couple days ago at Book Expo at Javits Center standing in the Starbucks line in front of Web Hubbell. Blast from the past. Web Hubbell at Starbucks, Dick Gephardt at my local In-N-Out, Mort Sahl at my nearest Peet’s Coffee and Jackie Mason Jr. at Carnegie Deli. Fast food – the great leveler. I’m guessing I’ll run into George W. Bush at a Tony Roma’s, and Louis C.K. at a Coffee Bean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    No, that’s fair, I had forgotten about the Soviet spy thing. But does not alter the race element in Obama-hatred.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:

    I recall Bush accused of not being legally entitled to be POTUS.

    No…Bush was indeed appointed to the Presidency…but no one that I know of ever questioned his legal standing to be President had he actually won; e.g. a forged birth certificate.
    Big difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  33. mantis says:

    Didn’t they try to claim Clinton was a drug dealer during the first campaign?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  34. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    @michael reynolds: I remember Bush I and II portrayed as more loyal to the Saudis than the US, and Clinton accused of becoming a Soviet spy during a student tour. I recall Bush accused of not being legally entitled to be POTUS. War heroes Eisenhower and Kennedy were accused of disloyalty.

    I don’t recall Democrats running permanent multi-year investigations of everything Bush 41 and Bush 43 did. I do recall a 6 year investigation of Bill Clinton and an impeachment for reasons not related to his governance. I do not recall that a majority of any one political party thought Clinton or either Bush to be not-an-American, as has been the case with Obama.

    Race really is a subtext with respect to the intense dislike of Obama. Just imagine if Obama was not a moderate and was instead an extremist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  35. Matt Bernius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But does not alter the race element in Obama-hatred.

    To your point, as I’ve written before, the critical difference between attacks on Obama versus past presidents, is that the vast majority of attacks on Obama the man do tie back to race.

    With GWB, most tied back to privilege and his perceived lack of intelligence. With Clinton, it was his libido and an underlying criminality driving most of the personal attacks.

    The personal attacks (and this does drift into some fringe attacks on his policy — ‘food stamp president’) have almost exclusively been racially based.

    And for the record, its that casual racism of most of these attacks that is also so disturbing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  36. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:
    There is certainly racial animus driving some of the attacks on Obama and that is coupled with an ‘other’ animus because his father was not only of African descent, but was actually from Africa and Muslim. That is a trifecta of terrible to a certain subset of our culture. His race and his father’s background form the nature of the opposition and its intensity in some quarters. That said, I think it is a secondary driver, rather than a primary driver. The people that hate him because he is black and his father is an African Muslim would still hate him because of the D after his name, just like they hate the Clintons, just like they hate Pelosi, and just like they will hate the next Democratic nominee for president.
    The racial and xenophobic elements to the Obama hatred are odious and more pervasive than I, or any of us are comfortable with, but painting all opposition with that broad brush does more to obscure than to illuminate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  37. Just Me says:

    Not all republican criticism is based on racism. It gets really old to be called a racist because you don’t like the decisions a president made because you don’t like them.

    Libya is a hot mess right now.
    Syria is a hot mess (although that would be a hot mess no matter what president was in charge and but am ing to bet all those people supporting everything Obama does and accusing me of being a racist would be critical of Romney right now if he was the President).

    Putin is running circles around Obama-not because I like Putin or want him as president (I think is corrupt and sneaky) but he is more savvy when it comes to how he plays his hands.

    Foreign policy doesn’t happen in a vacuum and often there are no good or easy decisions. I think mostly Obama hasn’t been all that impressive and I think Africa is going to become more of a problem but then nobody really cares about Africa until something big happens and even then half the world can’t be bothered.

    But you guys just go on pretending like Obama’s sh%t doesn’t stink and he never makes mistakes and if he did he gets a pass because well Bush sucked and Reagan sucked more or maybe not more but still sucked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  38. mantis says:

    @Just Me:

    But you guys just go on pretending like Obama’s sh%t doesn’t stink

    You just go on pretending he’s responsible for every problem in the entire world.

    Putin is running circles around Obama

    What does that mean, if not just you like his tough guy swagger? Russia is not in great shape these days (Thanks Obama!).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  39. An Interested Party says:

    But you guys just go on pretending like Obama’s sh%t doesn’t stink and he never makes mistakes and if he did he gets a pass because well Bush sucked and Reagan sucked more or maybe not more but still sucked.

    Who is arguing that Obama never makes mistakes? Who is giving him a pass on anything? It must be just so easy to attack phantom arguments that no one has made other than you…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  40. wr says:

    @Matt Bernius: “*Cough* Bush v. Gore? *Cough*”

    Are you seriously comparing people who believe that Bush was not legitimately elected because his win was based on a Supreme Court decision so ludicrous that even the court said it should never be used as precedent with those who insist Obama was born in Kenya?

    I realize that “both sides do it,” but that’s just silly.

    And yes, as Pinky or someone pointed out, there have always been nuts claiming that every president was illegitimate. The difference is that with Obama those nuts are in the leadership of the House of Representatives. Again, even while you’re busy insisting that Both Sides Do It, I’m sure you can see a tiny difference here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  41. Grewgills says:

    @Just Me:

    Putin is running circles around

    Please be specific. How has Putin outmaneuvered Obama?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    But you guys just go on pretending like Obama’s sh%t doesn’t stink and he never makes mistakes and if he did he gets a pass because well Bush sucked and Reagan sucked more or maybe not more but still sucked.

    Look, here’s the problem.
    The GOP has a “the sky is falling” problem. Republicans have spent the better part of 5+ years complaining bitterly about virtually everything Obama does. And that’s not all: At various times over half of Republican voters believed Birther claims and suspicions that Obama is not a legitimately elected president, that he’s not American. Republicans also shut down government and countenanced a default on federal debt in an attempt to get the president to capitulate to their demands. All of that being the case, the problem is that Republicans now have little credibility when they point to mistakes by the president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  43. Grewgills says:

    @wr:

    The difference is that with Obama those nuts are in the leadership of the House of Representatives.

    As opposed to the 90s when they were in the leadership of the House of Representatives?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  44. C. Clavin says:

    @al-Ameda:
    And in spite of all that….he’s had an amazingly productive Presidency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @Just Me:
    That’s just silly.
    There’s a boat load of things I don’t like about what Obama has done.
    I’d prefer single payer health care.
    Then there’s the NSA BS.
    Drones.
    I’d have preferred Cheney was up on charges of war crimes that he has admitted to rather than out complaining about how Obama has kept us safer than him and Bush did.
    These EPA regs are far too long in coming.
    And I still haven’t been appointed to those death panels like I was promised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  46. C. Clavin says:

    @Just Me:
    But when you see this crap day after day from Republican leaders…
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rick-perry-bergdahl-distraction-va-scandal
    And seriously….Oliver North complaining about Obama negotiating with terrorists…
    http://www.opednews.com/populum/linkm.php?f=Oliver-North-Yes-Oliver-in-Best_Web_OpEds-Bowe-Bergdahl_Obama_and_Foreign_Affairs_Oliver-North_RELEASE-140604-42.html
    It’s hard to have a rational discussion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  47. Tillman says:

    @al-Ameda: This, so hard. I recall back in ’09 when the machine really started up. Lots of prognostication on talk radio and Fox News about the coming Obama tyranny. And then the constant inflation of minor scandals into major brouhahas most of which fizzle out on close inspection.

    Like I wrote in a different thread, it’s the fwckin’ Boy Who Cried Wolf. They decry everything Obama does good or bad, so when he does something genuinely scandalous (e.g. circumventing Congress on Libya, prosecuting whistleblowers like there’s no tomorrow, expanding NSA surveillance authority to cover AP reporters), no one’s willing to listen to them. You can’t trust people who are reflexively opposed to Bob to give you an objective idea of why you should hate Bob.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  48. C. Clavin says:
  49. bill says:

    so the worlds view of “doing the right thing” must mean “nothing”?! wow, who knew?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Oliver North complaining about Obama negotiating with terrorists

    I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really awake on that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  51. rachel says:

    @anjin-san: Pudding! Everybody likes pudding, particularly if it’s chocolate, butterscotch or lemon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  52. CarriesGunz says:

    @ Pinky

    I remember Bush I and II portrayed as more loyal to the Saudis than the US

    Do you remember all the Saudi VIPs flying out of the US on 9.12.01, while American citizens were grounded, sleeping in airports with their suitcases for pillows?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  53. CarriesGunz says:

    @ Just Me

    But you guys just go on pretending like Obama’s sh%t doesn’t stink and he never makes mistakes

    Let’s see. I am profoundly disappointed that he has not gone all-in for ending the war on drugs and trying to reduce the incarceration rate in the US. I really, really don’t like being spied on by my own government. He has, for the most part, done very poorly in negotiating with the GOP – (partially because he is too rational to understand that they are actually crazy, but that is beside the point)

    Too late in his administration to do much good on the environment (Clinton made the same mistake). I give him a B-

    If you want to stick to your fantasy, be my guest. But it is a fantasy. Obama has his flaws and he has made his mistakes. That being said, compared to the man he replaced he looks like Thomas Jefferson.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @rachel:
    You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  55. muchbox says:

    Guess you haven’t seen today’s NY Daily news coverage today? http://nydailynews.com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  56. beth says:

    @muchbox: Maybe the Ayatollah would like to ask his friend Osama Bin Laden about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  57. C. Clavin says:

    @muchbox:
    In the meantime Iran is complying with international demands and sanctions laid out by Obama.
    So you keep listening to the bluster.
    The adults will pay attention to the important details.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  58. CarriesGunz says:

    @ rachel

    Butterscotch pudding, now that brings back some good memories :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Muchbox says:

    Global approval of President Barack Obama’s policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence.
    Since 2009, confidence in the American president has declined by 24 percentage points and approval of his policies has fallen 30 points. http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/06/13/global-opinion-of-obama-slips-international-policies-faulted/

    @C Calvin “Iran’s continued refusal to come clean on their ongoing work on detonators calls into question any hope that they would abide by the final agreement – even if a good deal would be achievable. Tehran has always relied on deception and deceit about their nuclear program and there is no indication they will be changing their ways.” The administration is unlikely to declare Iran to be in breach (for fear it might have to do something). It also wants the release of $4.2 billion in frozen oil sale funds is really why it is quote on quote complying. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/05/14/iran-isnt-complying-with-the-interim-deal/

    @ BETH True to form, Obama waffled for weeks. Allied with Valerie Jarrett, Obama couldn’t bring himself to give the go-ahead to Panetta and the CIA which had developed the plan and had been urging the action for weeks. Miniter — who has also worked for the Washington Times and the Sunday Times of London — cites an unnamed source within Joint Special Operations Command as claiming previous missions to kill bin Laden were canceled THREE TIMES by the President in January, February and March 2011.

    Leon Panetta was directing the operation with both his own CIA operatives, as well as direct contacts with military – both entities were reporting to Panetta only at this point, and not the President of the United States. There was not going to be another delay as had happened 24 hour earlier. The operation was at this time effectively unknown to President Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett and it remained that way until AFTER it had already been initiated. President Obama was literally pulled from a golf outing and escorted back to the White House to be informed of the mission. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-book-hillary-clinton-force-behind-mission-kill-osama-bin-laden-article-1.1140412

    I and didn’t run that cover (just thought it was ironic in light of this article)…so I will just go back to playing with my toys in the sandbox under the bridge by the highway and scream at the passing cars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  60. Barry says:

    @Muchbox: You’re quoting the Washington ‘Warmonger’ Post and the NY Daily Right-wing Lie.

    Come up with sources which don’t lie on a daily basis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  61. beth says:

    @Muchbox: That book, which is completely based on anonymous and unnamed sources, has been thoroughly debunked by many of the people involved in planning the mission. And they did it on the record out loud in public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  62. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In fact, just to expand on Putin, he now controls the physical space of Crimea. He adds some oil and gas. He got the bases he already had.

    In the process he alarmed all of his neighbors – Europe, the ‘Stans, China, and by extension the US.

    I agree, but the Russians I know tell me that they consider that a good bargain in the long run. Russians tend to view it from the vantage point of centuries; alarm passes, ownership tends to last longer. A decade or two from now the politics will have changed, but they might well still own the land.

    I’d argue that has nothing to do with running rings around Obama – its in Russia’s backyard, and the only way for Obama to stop it would have been a war (potentially a nuclear war, see backyard above). I think Obama handled a poor situation as well as it could have been handled. But its still a net gain for Russia, seen from the long term perspective (ie decades to centuries, they’ve been fighting over that area a long time).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  63. C. Clavin says:

    @george:

    Russians tend to view it from the vantage point of centuries

    And Crimea was theirs for centuries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  64. Austin says:

    Clearly, this author does not spend a lot of time overseas and/or he just doesn’t have an adequate understanding of U.S. relationships and obligations.

    I don’t know. I am apolitical. I work in defense, and make the personal choice not to vote and participate in politics. I travel a lot, and find myself in these countries occasionally. Most who understand foreign policy and international relations understand the difference between a proactive and reactive foreign policy.

    Proactive is trying to initiate a strategic vision to achieve various objectives in the interests of the United States. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it falters. However, a “reactive” policy is much more dangerous because it reveals the personal emotions, wishes, and vulnerabilities of the policy maker. Strategies have boundaries and real red lines, emotionally driven policy usually is characteristic of those more concerned with their own image and self interests, rather than orchestrating a strategic direction for the country.

    Proactive puts your rivals and adversaries on their heels, reactive policy gives them the initiative, allowing them to secure various geopolitical gains before you can formulate a strategy to counter them. Speeches don’t produce or counter anything.

    We no longer have an intelligence gathering strategy, instead we have become reliant upon assassinating people with drones, and thus, loose all the intel they carry. We rely upon drones because we lost our HUMNIT intel sources when Obama continued to defy his obligations to U.S. allies in the region. Egypt no longer shares info with us because we threw Mubarak under the bus, Saudi has ceased because disagreements about the Arab Spring and or willingness to turn a blind eye to Iran (who is playing is for fools), the Israelis also stopped when we leaked info about their jets bombing Hezbollah targets from Turkish bases, and of course the Turks stopped sharing intel with us for leaking their cooperation with Israel.

    Agree or not, Bush made clear his intentions, and Bush never was one to try to cover up his mistakes. He takes the risks, and suffers the consequences, for better or worse. His conviction, loyalty to allies, and decisiveness lent credibility to American strength, even when occupied by two wars. Anyone who thinks our adversaries have not become more bold in the last six years is just not paying attention. They understand that this administration is more concerned about its own legacy, rather than American interests and an actual foreign policy derived from strategic concepts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  65. steve says:

    Bush lost the confidence of our allies with his invasion of Iraq. The Brits went along because they always go along. Everyone else lost confidence, as noted in the post. He was decisive, and decisively wrong. He also ran the Iraq war (really Cheney and Rumsfeld) incompetently leading to prolonged wars. Bush demonstrated, decisively, that the US does not know and/or is not willing to turn chaotic third world countries into pro-Western democracies. Bush made the world safer for Iran, unbalancing the powers in the region.

    Anyone who has been paying attention, LOL, would have noticed that our adversaries actually killed 3,000 of us on our own soil and that Russia actually invaded another country while Bush ran the country. The Syrians are killing each other, good for them. I guess you count North Korea obtaining nukes as something other than bold? Libya? Fewer are dying there than in Iraq, where we lost thousands of soldiers and trillions of dollars for ……what?

    Republicans need to wake up the the fact, and own it, that the Bush administration was a disaster on foreign policy. To be sure, most of that is due to Iraq. They actually did some good things in Africa, but Iraq outweighs everything.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  66. DrDaveT says:

    @Austin:

    Bush made clear his intentions, and Bush never was one to try to cover up his mistakes. He takes the risks, and suffers the consequences,

    Dammit, you owe me a new keyboard.

    What consequences, exactly, did GWB suffer? I can remember clearly the day he “took full responsibility” for the Katrina fiasco — my wife and I looked at each other and wondered what, exactly, it means to “take full responsibility” without actually suffering any consequences or making any reparations or being inconvenienced in any way.

    When you started talking about proactive vs. reactive, I assumed you were going to contrast proactive strategy like the pivot/rebalancing to Asia against the reactive nonsense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Silly me…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  67. Tyrell says:

    Now think about this: President Eisehower warned the military and congress about getting involved in brushfire wars in other countries. Of course, Eisenhower could get that across without appearing weak. Can’t happen today. Other countries feared Ike. He was the “master of D-Day”, the winner of WWII, a president who said that nuclear weapons were a viable option. Yet Ike was a masterful bluffer (read “Ike’s Bluff”). Obama, and other presidents are portrayed as weak if they keep out of other countries. Obama comes across as making a lot of empty threats. But these brush fires have turned into many a quicksand for presidents.
    One local am radio station: “The president has drawn so many lines in the sand he could have a pretty good corn crop.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  68. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “But these brush fires have turned into many a quicksand for presidents.”

    That may be the finest sentence in the English language since Samuel Goldwyn died.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1