There was a time, early in Barack Obama’s presidency, when it was considered outrageous to worry out loud that the new president might treat enemies better than allies, run down friends and elevate foes, show solidarity with anti-American leaders, maybe even release dangerous terrorists or sympathize with traitors.
And here we are.
Indeed. And here's a Washington Post tour of presidential whoppers to remember. I especially appreciate the rebuttal of the president's defenders that President Obama did indeed immediately call the Benghazi attack an episode of terrorism. It was a frustrating example of believing my lying eyes over the assertions of Nuanced Americans.
But let me at least note some things that I think President Obama did right in foreign policy over his two terms.
In no particular order:
The Ebola response that included the dispatch of American troops to west Africa worked far better than I feared.
We have backed Ukraine in their war with Russia. I never thought we needed to send big-ticket items to seriously help Ukraine. Although our help is tied to restraining Ukraine, too, which is unfortunate. So this is partial credit.
The administration did not feel the pull of coming to a fake agreement with North Korea over their nuclear weapons program. Heck, I feared the Bush 43 administration might be tempted to go down that road.
The administration forged closer ties with India, which I feared would be a casualty of being associated with Bush.
The already ongoing "pivot" to Asia was continued even though it was more spin of a continuation of post-Cold War trends than some innovation.
The re-engagement with the defense of NATO Europe and closer ties with non-NATO Sweden and Finland.
The waging of Iraq War 2.0, however much I think we have been too slow in engaging the enemy there. At least it admits that we achieved something in Iraq War 1.0 and that it was an error to leave too early in 2011.
The deployment of sea- and land-based missile defenses in Europe (making up for the cancellation of the Bush plan in Europe). Missile defense in Europe (and in general) is progressing despite the early cancellation of the Bush plan to defend Europe and North America with sites in eastern NATO countries. Eventually the Obama plan is to get to that stage. We'll see if it does. But it is making progress.
The continuation of Bush-era support for Colombia's fight against communist and drug gang terrorists.
Tighter ties with Japan and South Korea in the face of Chinese and North Korean threats.
Closer ties with Vietnam to counter China.
We've kept our distance from the Venezuelan regime despite the love affair America's left wing has had with that repulsive and inept socialist government.
Then there is the killing of Osama bin Laden. Although that was a symbolic move that isn't significant unless paired with a serious effort to confront and defeat the ideology that spawned that slimeball. So call that a partial credit, at best. New slime balls--as the rise of ISIL shows--will replace individuals if the ideology can continue to spew out jihadis.
Our energy situation has improved dramatically. Mind you, this was despite the president's inclinations and policy. But it happened on his watch. On the other hand, since much of the world still needs oil from unstable sources and we need the world, we can't walk away from stabilizing the unstable oil sources.
And we do have a "kill list" that our armed drones use to thin the herd of jihadi leadership. That should never be our total war policy, but it doesn't bother me one bit the way it bothers a lot of the usual suspects.
And I'd be remiss not to mention that just being the first African-American president was actually a big deal that America can be proud of. And he was reelected. Given that, charges of racism shaping our most recent election that are flung around when no African American was on the presidential ballot are especially sad. But it was a milestone. I'd have preferred Colin Powell to have that honor, but you reach your milestone with the president you had and not the president you wish you had.
Of course, I realize that this list is a lot like finding your husband cheated on you with hookers, the neighbors, his yoga instructor, and even your sister; but that he takes out the garbage, is a good provider, loves your children, has a perfect driving record, and never forgets your birthday and wedding anniversary.
And a parting note: I know I have mentioned this before, but if I was a gambling man, I'd bet that Barack Obama, Global Citizen that he is, becomes Secretary General of the United Nations at some point.