President Barack Obama’s call yesterday for “restraint on all sides” as defenseless Coptic Christians were attacked and murdered in Egypt in a government-supported Islamic pogrom was typical of his administration’s response to attacks by states against civilians.
Though he has, in some cases, come around to criticizing and even toppling regimes, Obama’s first instinct is to treat the perpetrators and the victims as equals.
The sole, and repeated, exception is Israel, which the Obama administration criticizes and condemns for legal activities such as construction within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. By contrast, the administration coddles the unrepentant, terror-promoting Palestinian leadership–a fruitless effort, greeted with contempt rather than gratitude.
The same tendency is apparent in Obama’s newly-uncovered attempt to apologize for the atomic blast at Hiroshima, which the Japanese, appropriately, rejected. Obama has had trouble, especially early in his presidency, distinguishing defense from aggression–especially when that defense is on behalf of western democracy.
That is worse than moral equivalence; it is “immoral equivalence,” because it destroys the moral distinction between freedom and tyranny. It is also typical of the post-colonial leftist elite that governs in much of the developing world. South Africa, for example, has defended its coddling of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe in similar terms. Likewise, India and Brazil joined South Africa and Lebanon in abstaining from the failed UN Security Council vote to condemn Syria’s bloody repression of continuing protests there.
Frequently, when Obama does (finally) decide to pull the proverbial rug out from under an autocratic regime, it is an American ally–or, in the case of Libya, a country moving towards the Western orbit. In the post-colonial view of world affairs, an alliance with the United States is inherently morally suspect. Conversely, human rights violations by anti-American regimes are mitigated by their hostility to American ideals and hegemony.
Obama’s post-colonial foreign policy is not a function of his character alone; it is enthusiastically promoted by Hillary Clinton, and enjoys broad sympathy among the Democratic Party’s intellectual elite. Yet few others would have been so insensitive as to ask that Christians being massacred by Muslims in the Middle East show “restraint.”
Obama’s radical past persists in his foreign policy postures; he is a critic, not a leader, of the free world. More than that, he seems to believe he has the unique responsibility–and ability–to reconcile the United States with our enemies, past and present, and not on our terms.
Often, that means erasing the difference between good and evil, for as long as Obama can avoid political pressure in the contrary direction. That is partly why the United States under President Obama is less feared, and even less respected, as a world power.
(Cross-posted at Big Peace.)