Nobody’s Friend Is Nobody’s Fool

There are those of us who would prefer that our president not seem quite so eager to be pals with absolutely everyone. The spectacle of Mr. Obama schmoozing gaily yesterday with the grotesque Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez — a man who is no friend of our nation or culture, and who has missed no opportunity to slander and defame the United States while working to consolidate his fascist dictatorship — was particularly troubling.

Mr. Obama is right to set a more gracious and diplomatic tone after eight years of pugnacious Bush-era swagger, but he seems at times almost eager to usher the United States down from its place at the summit of world leadership. To address as friends or peers nations that are neither is a serious mistake. There are ruthless men in the world — Messrs. Chávez, Putin, and Ahmadinejad, to name a few — who will see such blithe and undiscriminating amiability as a sign of weakness. Which is what it is.

Political analyst Gloria Borger articulates these concerns well in an online opinion piece published today. Read it here.

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7 Comments

  1. Joe says

    And what do you know about this an what the USA has done in this and those other countries. I think these opinions are simply based on PoV. Alot of the retoric is true. Just because its coming from aweful men and tyrants at that, does not make them false. Showing strength is one thing, denial when it is already made known and taking a hard line stance when called on something is another. I suggest you and those making commentaries do some research into what they are refrencing there opinion on. These are crazy dictators to be sure and are using the information to propell their own agendas but that does not mean what they are arguing is baseless.

    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Julie says

    Joe – It does not matter what the argument is as long as it is coming from, to use your words, “a crazy dictator”. When Chavez decides to respect human rights, free speech, free media, etc the world would should listen. In the meantime, it’s unfortunate that our President has chosen to acknowledge him in any way at all. Not because of what he says about our country, I couldn’t care less about what a man like him has to say about us. But because of the message it sends to the people that suffer under his dictatorship – that the country which is supposed to represent freedom will not stand up for you! It’s shameful.

    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Exactly, Julie. Well said.

    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  4. Mike says

    Whether we like them ( Chevz and others) or not, they represent the people of other nations. The idea that we pick and choose whom we want to lead in other countries is part of the problem with how the rest of the world looks at us. To react in a negative way, any way at all, bolsters their standing amoung those who hate our values. It’s about time we had a President who understands how the rest of the world views us and is addressing the very issues that has made so many in the world to view us as the”ugly Americans”

    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Mike, what it seems you are saying is that it is not only wrong, but contrary to our interests, for us to “react negatively” toward dictators who have declared themselves our implacable foes, and who oppress their people in ways that are utterly antithetical to the bedrock principles of liberty and democracy that form the very foundation of our nation and culture.

    You suggest that for us to treat such men with the contempt they deserve “bolsters their standing” amongst our foes. This is exactly wrong, as even the most causal survey of history amply confirms: what emboldens and encourages dictators is not disdain and defiance, but fawning and appeasement.

    If we don’t have enough confidence in our principles to stand up for them ourselves, you can be quite certain that nobody else will.

    Posted April 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  6. bob koepp says

    I think Chavez is just as bad as Malcolm says. But I also know that diplomacy requires holding one’s nose and sitting down at the table with those whom one despises. Effective diplomacy requires the recognition that there’s a difference between the moral high ground and the moral high horse.

    Posted April 22, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    True, Bob. It would have been nice if Mr. Obama had held his nose a little more, and glad-handed a little less.

    Posted April 22, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink