March 8, 2010
One year in and Obama doesn't have any foreign leader friends
It's a small detail, worthy of discussion only because it highlights a much larger problem. President Obama apparently doesn't have any close friends among foreign leaders according to this Washington Post piece by Jackson Diehl:
I recently asked several senior administration officials, separately, to name a foreign leader with whom Barack Obama has forged a strong personal relationship during his first year in office. A lot of hemming and hawing ensued.
One official mentioned French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is scheduled to bring his glamorous wife to the White House residence this month for a couples dinner with Barack and Michelle Obama. But in France, Sarkozy's bitterness toward Obama, the product of several perceived snubs, is an open secret, reported widely in the French press. In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September Sarkozy appeared to mock Obama's signature disarmament initiative, saying "we are living in a real world, not a virtual world."
Angela Merkel's name also came up: Obama and the German chancellor, I was told, share a down-to-business pragmatism. But Merkel, too, has been conspicuously cool toward Obama ever since he made Berlin a stop on his 2008 election campaign. She stopped him then from appearing at the Brandenburg Gate and was said to be miffed last November when Obama didn't show for ceremonies celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Anyway, diplomats say that Merkel has a much warmer relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
And no one named Gordon Brown which reinforces the notion that our more than 100 year "special relationship" with Great Britain is dead - at least in Obama's eyes.
So is there anyone who President Obama feels he has a close relationship among foreign heads of state?
Finally, I was offered a name I didn't expect: Dmitry Medvedev. Obama, I was assured, has built a solid relationship with the Russian president during their several bilateral meetings, which have focused in part on a new nuclear arms control agreement that both could count as a distinctive achievement. But the deal hasn't been clinched -- maybe because Vladimir Putin, whom Obama has held at arm's length, doesn't like it. And could it really be that an American president has found his closest foreign partner in the Kremlin?
Does Obama actually believe that Medvedev doesn't take a breath without getting an OK from Putin first? Evidently so which is another indication of Obama's remarkable ability to fool himself.
As I said, this is not an earth shattering revelation. But as one more indication that we have a dangerously naive, arrogant, and perhaps even megalomaniac for a president, it should worry us.