THE SPINE NOVEMBER 24, 2009
At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel.
Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts!
Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures. OK, it's hard to imagine, given how the trade deck is stacked against us with China, that this president would muster the courage to tell Hu Jintao a thing or two. Like screwing around with the openness of his visit. On the other hand, our weakness also gives us considerable strength: Beijing sinks with our dollar. So there.
I won't rehash the degrading courtship in Istanbul, Riyadh and Cairo. You can look these up in my previous treatments of them. How different would it have appeared had Obama flown directly from the pyramids to Jerusalem? How different would it truly have been had he done that? Plenty different. But this would not have fit with his self-designed and self-assigned mission to the Muslims. And, by the way, this is not just about cosmetics. His obsession, his fixation on new construction has forced the Palestinians into the crippling bind of not being less extreme and less fervent than the president on pre-conditions for negotiations. Why, by the way, if all of this is disputed land, which it is, shouldn't the Arabs also freeze construction? Well, that shows how absurd this skewing dogma is.
Enough of my daily lapse into writing about Israel.
There is also India, the largest democracy in the world. It is certainly not a perfect democracy, and its capitalism is quite rapacious--but not at all as rapacious as that of China. India has emerged as a trusted ally, which China is not. India is also a country bedeviled by jihadis, as we are reminded often on the news, as we are reminded this Thanksgiving weekend on the first anniversary of the Mumbai massacre in which 173 random people (except for the Jews among them, the chosen) were basically executed and literally hundreds of others wounded and maimed. In the first of his White House state dinners, the president has feted his counterpart Manmohan Singh. But, as nearly every serious newspaper has observed, the Indians are nervous and resentful, I believe, understandably so, even justifiably so.
Then there is the grumbling of Britain. Con Coughlin, an editor at the Telegraph, has an article in the Spectator, It is called "A Special Form of Disrespect." Coughlin does a narrative of the U.S.-British relationship from 9/11 on. Of course, he could have gone back to World War I. This has been an alliance steeped in common values, the values of democracy, liberalism and, pardon me, Christian civilization. Maybe that's where the troubles come in. These are not the values of the third world. "Being an American ally has never seemed so unrewarding." This little essay tells you why.