The Enemy of My Friend
Our foreign policy is rewarding adversaries and alienating allies


The administration’s mistreatment of our most dependent and loyal allies has been most obvious in the case of Israel. Let’s take one example among many. Until a settlement of the Arab–Israeli dispute has been negotiated, the U.S. is almost certain to veto any Palestinian-statehood resolution at the U.N. Last year, a U.S. veto of one such resolution (it would have given member-state status to the Palestinian Authority at UNESCO) angered the Arabs and left them suspicious of Obama. To mollify them, America’s ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, publicly condemned Israel’s decision to build housing for both Arabs and Jews in Givat HaMatos, a village on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem.

Predictably, this intervention in Israeli politics failed to mollify the Arabs, but it succeeded in offending the Israelis. The administration sees a big difference between the Israeli government and Israel itself, and viewed its criticism as directed only at the former; but unfortunately the Israelis don’t see that distinction quite so clearly. Although Obama claims that he has “Israel’s back,” few Israelis believe it. According to one recent poll, only 32 percent of Israelis view Obama positively. The U.S. has therefore become largely irrelevant to the peace process that Obama had hoped to influence. We were uniquely positioned to serve as mediator in the conflict only because Israelis trusted us to underwrite the risks of the concessions that they alone were being asked to make under the flawed “land for peace” formula. However laudable his intentions, Obama has thrown that trust away.

In Latin America, the story is much the same. At the request of Bolivia’s socialist leader, Evo Morales, an ally of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, Obama cut funds to pro-democracy groups. He took the side of anti-American factions in the Honduras constitutional crisis, when the pro-American side was clearly in the right as a matter of Honduran constitutional law. He embarrassed Panama and Colombia by holding up free-trade agreements on protectionist grounds. And he has stood by while former Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega has cemented his grip on power in Nicaragua.

Across the globe, those who have counted on the United States to defend liberal democracy, free markets, and national sovereignty have found Obama consistently unsupportive. It’s perfectly understandable: In Obama’s worldview those things are a recipe for injustice. Who can be surprised if the administration treats proponents of our values abroad — our most natural and committed allies — with ambivalence or even enmity? And who will feign surprise when those allies refuse to stand up for us?

– Mr. Loyola is a former counsel for foreign and defense policy to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee.

August 13, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 15

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Steven Hayward reviews How to Think Seriously about the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism, by Roger Scruton.
  • Samuel R. Staley reviews Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future, by Grover G. Norquist and John R. Lott Jr.
  • Scott Winship reviews The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, by Timothy Noah.
  • Florence King reviews Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, by Thomas Penn.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Richard Brookhiser offers Kerouacian haikus.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
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Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .