Will the real Obama stand up? Is the real president the one joking with Hugo Chavez and sending a video to Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Or is he really the guy that executed three Somali pirates who had never before hurt any captives?
By Victor David Hanson
In matters of foreign policy during the president’s first 100 days, we have seen two Barack Obamas.
Consider “Obama I.” After taking office, the president gave his first interview to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV station, and listed various sins of America while praising the Saudi king as courageous.
On trips abroad since then, Obama I has continued to apologize for the U.S. being arrogant and dismissive of Europe. He thinks we have been inconsiderate to Mexico. And, judging by a speech he gave in Prague, we apparently carry a special burden to eliminate nuclear weapons since we ended World War II by using them.
Obama I seems far kinder to our rivals than to the prior Bush administration when he assures various South American thugs and Iranian and Russian strongmen that he represents a sharp break from a recent, unfortunate American past.
Obama I sat quietly for nearly an hour while Nicaragua’s thuggish leader, Daniel Ortega, trashed the U.S. at the recent Summit of the Americas. Instead of defending his country, the president, in his call to move forward, replied that he was only three months old at the time of our alleged misdeeds in Cuba — and therefore not responsible for them.
Most maddening, Obama I released classified memos about past enhanced interrogation techniques — over the objections of former CIA directors from both parties.
But there has been another Obama as well. This more centrist “Obama II” kept Bush appointee Robert Gates as secretary of Defense. He named no-nonsense Gen. James Jones national-security adviser.
Most of the campaign rhetoric about leaving Iraq on a strict timetable has been scrapped. Instead, the Bush-Petraeus plan of withdrawal based on conditions on the ground continues.
Obama sent more combat troops to Afghanistan, while trying in vain to get the Europeans to fulfill their NATO obligations by doing the same. Despite the hostile anti-Bush rhetoric, Obama has kept intact many of his predecessor’s homeland-security measures. There has been little change with the Patriot Act, wiretap and e-mail intercepts of suspected terrorist communications, and renditions of overseas suspects.
Obama II gave the green light to execute suspected Somali pirates who were holding an American hostage. And in the case of our continued Predator drone attacks in Pakistan, such bombings are a little more extreme than waterboarding known terrorists.
There could be several explanations for our split-personality president.