American Foreign Policy Is a Popularity Contest
Life under Obama-Biden.


Anne Bayefsky

It isn’t too late for Americans to look in the mirror and ask themselves: “Are you really proud to be an American?” Because if the answer is “yes,” the Obama-Biden-United Nations ticket is not in sync with what makes your heart beat. Of course, they’re patriotic. But it’s a patriotism that is dangerously dependent on other people’s affections.

This election is about sovereignty, being unashamed of American values and prepared to defend them without apology. Challenges to those principles will not only be immediate, as Joseph Biden warned last week, but as he continued: “It is not going to be apparent that we’re right.” Yes sir. It’s not going to be apparent we’re right to Middle East thugs, Europeans yearning for the balance of power half-way between genocidal Iran and the Bill of Rights, or Russian autocrats. But that doesn’t mean we need to redefine right and wrong by taking the pulse of the immoral majority at the United Nations.

Barack Obama’s news conference after Biden’s eye-opener made it plain he will set foreign policy by what it takes to win a global popularity context. His “new direction” for America: “Sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are no[t]…about…unilateralism…; we’re about creating partnerships around the world.” Talk about rhetorical flourishes. The United States has more bilateral and multilateral partnerships on more levels in more contexts than any other country on the planet. Not to mention that Americans give more financial aid to more people outside their own country than anyone else — a fact known full well to those on the receiving end.

On November 5 no one will be able to complain they didn’t know enough about where Senator Obama will take this country. On October 22 he named his number one foreign-policy complaint, the one he will set out to change: “our standing in the world is set back.” Let’s call this the finger–in-the-wind “leadership” doctrine. If the United States were the bad guy, and Germany, Russia, and China were the role models, then assuming the position of an equal might make sense. But their credentials don’t add up, and our standing in these circles is not the barometer of what is good for Americans or for freedom-loving people anywhere.

Obama hasn’t stopped at generalities. He will be faced immediately by the catastrophic prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. And the mainstay of his foreign policy, in his own words, is this: “pursue direct diplomacy alongside our allies.” Sadly, this is not a rhetorical flourish. He is deadly serious, and no amount of on-the-job-training about the intentions of the ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad will help. Diplomatic initiatives with regard to Iran (alongside both allies and enemies) have been pursued by the United States for the last decade, through every stumbling block the United Nations and the Europeans have managed to throw in the way of serious sanctions. So the only thing Obama could be adding by using the word “direct” is the idea of introducing, as the bulwark against nuclear war, the yearned-for Obama-Ahmadinejad tête-a- tête. Such a strategy — even as a stated policy goal — is certain to legitimize and embolden genocidal maniacs, terrorists, and antisemites around the world. It will also make the economic crisis of today seem trivial. The economic costs of a nuclear armed Iran willing and able to use such weapons, along with the increased terrorism Iran is guaranteed to sponsor, may be beyond our current collective imagination, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Reminiscent of John Kerry’s “global test” for determining what’s right for America, the New York Times’s endorsement last week spelled out the Obama plan. “Mr. Obama wants to reform the United Nations, while Mr. McCain wants to create a new entity, the League of Democracies — a move that would incite even fiercer anti-American furies around the world.” The hypocrisy is staggering. It was the New York Times that endorsed the U.S. decision to stay out of the “reformed” U.N. Human Rights Council, because the cure for the U.N.’s lead human-rights body was worse than the disease. The editors know full well that when it comes to rights and freedoms, an entity where fully free democracies are in the minority cannot be reformed, because the majority likes it just the way it is. We pay and they party. But now the Times’s preference is to pander to anti-American furies.

There we have it: the Obama-Biden-United Nations future for America. Under this plan, who will decide what is in your best interest? Anti-Americans, for whom it is not going to be apparent — ever — that we’re right.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College. She is also editor of