David Calling

Obama and the King

President Obama’s tour round the world has been absolutely surreal, as he could not stop making promises he is in no position to fulfill, or apologizing for perceived American misdemeanors he is in no position to prove, never mind redress. Surely the unforgettable highpoint of this festival of illusion was in London, when Obama encountered King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It’s an accepted courtesy to royalty to make a little nod with the head, but film and photographs show Obama bending from the waist in a gesture of humble obeisance, as it were, acknowledging his inferior status. And there were the rest of us foolishly thinking that the whole purpose of the republic set up by the founding fathers was that its representatives would be on equal footing with monarchs. Obama further has gone out of his way to praise a so-called “peace” initiative proposed some years ago by King Abdullah. This calls for Israel to give the Palestinians everything they demand, including the return of all refugees. According to Obama, Israel would be “crazy” not to do what King Abdullah specifies, although this means that it must dissolve itself.
At the Arab summit just held in Qatar, King Abdullah had quite the opposite experience. Where Obama fawned, Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya these many years, showed open disrespect for the king, telling him to his face in front of assembled Arab power-holders, “It has been proven that it is you who have lies behind you and the grave ahead, and it is you who were created by the British and protected by America.” And he went on, “I am an internationalist leader and the dean of Arab rulers and the King of African Kings, and the Imam of Muslims, and my international stature does not permit me to descend to any other level. Thanks.” Gaddafi then walked out and visited the local (and superlative) museum of Islamic art. All right, Obama needn’t talk in that comically high-flown idiom, but it would be nice if he stated firmly and unmistakably that he’s the leader of the free world, and therefore that he’s the true internationalist, and as such has no call to bow and scrape to absolute rulers and despots.
Today’s news is that three Pakistanis have just been publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia, bringing to twenty the number of those executed in that country so far this year. And an American president bows to the man ultimately responsible for that?

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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