The Corner

Treating Our Friends Like Enemies

The Obama administration’s foreign policy provides a kind of porcelain alliance for America’s allies across the world. Three telling cases in point over the last week brought things to a head.

First, a senior Obama official termed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu a “chickensh*t.” The administration reduced its most important Middle East ally (and the only robust democratic country in the region) to a barnyard vulgarity.

Second, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran have reached a détente. In a sign of foreign-policy desperation, the Obama administration seeks a signature “victory” on paper at the cost of allowing Tehran to retain the capability to build nuclear weapons.

The world powers had set a November 24 deadline to end Iran’s illicit nuclear-weapons program. Obama has already agreed to gut six United Nations Security Council resolutions barring Iran from enriching uranium.

His inner circle of national-security officials seems to dismiss Iran’s jingoistic and expansionistic ideology.

Scott Modell, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the WSJ: “The Iranian regime is revolutionary and can’t get too close to us. So I’d be wary of any rapprochement. I think they are hell bent on pursuing a number of courses that run counter to U.S. interests.”

It is worth recalling Iran’s regime and its proxies murdered as many as 1,000 U.S. service personnel in Iraq in the years after 2003. As my FDD colleague Tony Badran notes, the Obama administration has simply airbrushed Iran’s role in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut from history. The joint Iranian-Hezbollah terrorist operation, which took place 31 years ago last week, killed 241 Marines.

Third, the Obama administration believes it can reach a nuclear deal with the rogue regime in Tehran, even though the latter does not keep its promises regarding human rights. Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a 28-page report refuting the assertions that President Hassan Rouhani has introduced reforms. One small example from the catalogue of horrors listed by Shaheed: “At least 49 Protestant Christians are currently detained, many for involvement in informal house churches . . . In April 2014, security forces reportedly raided an Easter service in a private home in southern Tehran and detained six individuals.”

The topsy-turvy world of the Obama administration — and its meaning for U.S. allies such as South Korea, the EU, Canada, Australia, and in the Middle East — can be illustrated by juxtaposition with how it treats America’s foes.

Compare the administration’s description of the prime minister of its closest Middle East ally as animal feces with its reaction to the U.S.’s main state enemy.

After the Iranian regime hanged a woman for a allegedly killing an Iranian intelligence agent who attempted to rape her, the Obama administration refrained from using any similar epithet to describe Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for refusing to stay her execution. The same logic applies to Khamenei’s failure to release four U.S. citizens held by Iran, including Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been incarcerated for more than two years for simply practicing his faith.

The Obama administration’s mistreatment of allies resonates. Reacting to Barack Obama’s trashing of Bibi, Senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) said, “Comments like these go right to our fears about the administration, which is seen as treating our friends like enemies and our enemies like friends.”

— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benajmin on Twitter @BenWeinthal

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