Barack Obama’s nasty parting shot at Israel may well have secured his legacy in foreign affairs. As weak, malevolent and sneaky.
His foreign policy has been a disaster almost from the outset in ways that contributed to the frustration and rage that poisoned the 2016 election. In part, Obama simply seemed languid, unable to stir himself in the face of threats or even look up from his putt. But there were always those who suggested that behind the indolence and prissy Wilsonian pose of being “too proud to fight” lurked something more sinister.
Obama, they claimed, was viscerally hostile to the United States and the West. When he took office he had the bust of Churchill removed from the Oval Office. His relations with Israel were always prickly. He snubbed Canada in spiking Keystone XL. Yet he did not react with alarm or even visible discomfort to threats to NATO such as Russian moves to destabilize and partially dismember Ukraine, despite a firm American security guarantee when it gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994.
Then there was his very revealing response to a 2009 question about American exceptionalism: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” As too often with Obama, the quicksilver tongue formed a yes that swiftly, smoothly morphed into a no.