Obama Should Make Europe Yearn For Bush

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Robert G. Kaufman
Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University
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      Robert G. Kaufman

      Robert G. Kaufman is a political scientist specializing in American foreign policy, national security, international relations, and various aspects of American politics. Kaufman received his JD from Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C., and his BA, MA, M. Phil., and PhD from Columbia University in the city of New York.

      Kaufman has written frequently for scholarly journals and popular publications, including The Weekly Standard, Policy Review, The Washington Times, the Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He is the author of three books. His most recent book In Defense of the Bush Doctrine was published by the University Press of Kentucky in May 2007. In 2000, his biography, Henry M Jackson: A Life in Politics received the Emil and Katherine Sick Award for the best book on the history of the Pacific Northwest. His first book, Arms Control During the Prenuclear Era, which Columbia University Press published, studied the interwar naval treaties and their linkage to the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific. Kaufman also assisted President Richard M. Nixon in the research and writing of Nixon's final Book, Beyond Peace. He is currently in the research phase of a biography of President Ronald Reagan, focusing on his presidency and his quest for it.

      Kaufman is a former Bradley Scholar and current adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation. He has taught at Colgate University, The Naval War College, and the University of Vermont.

Remember how Senator Obama used to blame George W. Bush for rising Anti-Americanism in Europe? Remember Obama hectoring Bush for lecturing rather than listening and for acting unilaterally without compunction? Remember Obama promising to heal the breach between the United States and our European allies by acting “in partnership” and showing “humility?”

That promise has vanished into the same ether as the president’s assurances that Americans could keep their healthcare plans if they wanted it. Five years of the Obama administration should make European statesmen yearn for President George W. Bush.

Liberal New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen labels the current state German-American relations the worst since World War II. President Obama contributed enormously to this downward spiral. In 2009, he offended many Germans by skipping the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the fall of 2013, the administration  provoked outrage in Germany with revelations that the NSC has spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most pro-American leaders in the country’s history. In July 2014, German-American relations sank even lower, when the German government requested the top representative of America’s secret service in Germany to leave the country. A spokesman for the Merkel government explained that the Obama administration’s “failure to cooperate on various” spying allegations prompted this drastic measure usually reserved for adversaries rather than allies.

Similarly, the Obama administration has badly damaged the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain — the bedrock of American alliances since FDR and Winston Churchill forged it in the early days of World War II. Multiple administration officials have even denied the  existence of an Anglo-American special relationship. Reversing Ronald Reagan’s unwavering support for British Margaret Thatcher during the Falkland War of 1982, President Obama has declared the United States neutral in the dispute between the U.K. and Argentina. Various State Department spokesmen have revealed Obama’s pro-Argentinian tilt referring to the islands as the Malvinas rather than the Falklands. Without consulting its staunchest ally, the Obama administration also provided the Russians with secret information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to entice them to sign a new START nuclear arms control treaty.

The administration’s reversal on missile defense in Eastern Europe demoralized and antagonized the constituency in Europe most sympathetic to the American point of view on a wide range of fundamental issues, like deterring an authoritarian Russia seeking to re-impose its dominance across East Central Europe; keeping the EU pro- rather than anti-American; acting decisively with coalitions of the willing rather than being hostage to UN gridlock or the lowest common denominator of a lax EU consensus. Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorwski has accused President Obama of “betraying Poland” by canceling missile defense President George W. Bush promised. Hero of Solidarity and ex-Polish President Lech Walesa named Obama as the world leader who “has disillusioned him the most” by abnegating America’s indispensable role as the world’s sole superpower. In 2012, Walesa endorsed Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney because “we are waiting for a president who understands that a strong America has always provided a balance of power in the world.”

Obama’s feckless reset with Russia and supine reaction to brazen Russian aggression in Ukraine has greatly added to Eastern Europe’s apprehensions. The president’s June 2014 trip to Europe failed utterly in its intended purpose of reassuring America’s Eastern European allies of America’s commitment to their security. Eastern European leaders dismissed Obama’s verbal assurance and a modest $1 billion spent on joint military exercises as a “smokescreen” for retreat.