Five decades ago, during the heart of the Cold War, a term entered modern political vocabulary: The Ugly American. Based upon a 1958 novel of the same name, the phrase began to be used to describe the whole range of thoughtless mistakes which Americans made and which led to the loss of friendship among the peoples of the world.
Today, the Obama Administration has brought the Ugly American back to life. Our nation and our people have always had jealous rivals. The French, whose revolution failed miserably, are loath to respect an American Revolution which proved a spectacular success. Marxist ideology led Russia and China to be hateful to America, whatever ordinary citizens of those countries might have felt. Arabs and Moslems, seeking someone to blame for their poverty and impotence, find America (and Israel) very tempting targets.
But America still has many natural and cultivated friends, though in less than one year, Obama and his lieutenants have succeeded in irritating, confusing, and angering these friends. It is as if Obama has contorted the Arab maxim "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" into the "enemy of my friend is my friend." Obama seems determined to be the Ugly American.
Israel is an excellent example of this. If we have a pure ally in the world today, it is Israel. America, like Israel and like every sane leader of every free nation, does not want Iran to get nuclear weapons. So when Israel suggests that it may undertake, alone, the burden of all free nations – taking out Iran's nuclear capacity – Obama's advisors warn that if the Israeli Defense Force flies over Iraq without our consent, our air forces will shoot down the Israeli warplanes.
Israel need not be pushed to this desperate action if Obama had passionately and publicly called for the end of the horrid reign of mullahs in Iran, after the Chicago-style presidential election of Ahmadinejad. One might have thought that American "progressives" would find a regime that exterminates gays, stones uppity women, and imposes draconian theocracy ought to be in the crosshairs of American Leftists. That assumes that the Left hates homophobia, patriarchy, and theocracy more than it hates America – a false assumption.
When our largely toothless Secretary of State travels to India, the world's largest democracy and a nation which, like us, looks with concern at the mad rulers of Iran, an unstable Pakistan, and a growing Chinese menace, she lectures the Indian government, which is trying to lift its people out of poverty, on the left's risible Green agenda.
While Obama nods toward an Iranian government which denies the Holocaust, seeks nuclear weapons, and considers America the Great Satan, it gratuitously snubs a constitutional government in Honduras and trusts, instead, the Marxist law-breaker who sought an illegal plebiscite to extend his term of office. Girls are not shot in the streets of Honduras. Huge protests are not broken up by special gangs of thugs. In fact, the whole of the constitutionally elected government of Honduras has concurred that former President Zelaya broke the Honduran Constitution. No matter. He hates America, and that counts most. Now he is reported back in Honduras. Does anyone wonder who America will support in an Honduran Civil War?
The same is true in South America, where the boorish thug Chavez crushes opposition, including the media voices of the opposition, to loud yawns from Washington or even approving words from Obaman czars. Obama appears to respect the goon who runs Venezuela: he shakes hands with the Venezuelan strongman after receiving a ghastly book from a man who describes our nation as the "most murderous empire that has existed in the history of the world" (N.B. Chavez is probably not our friend.) Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats offend Columbia, a close ally in South America, by putting the Columbia Free-Trade Agreement on indefinite hold.
Britain has been with America through thick and thin without political ideology of governments affecting that special relationship. But Obama appears intent upon offending the prime minister and even the sovereign of this old and important ally. Czar Putin of Russia, however, is given smiles and unearned concessions. Even the timing of Obama's offending our allies seems deliberate, as many have noted our decision not to defend new NATO allies like Poland was on the seventieth anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.
There are people around the world who will always hate or distrust us, like the mullahs of Iran or Kim Jong Il or Castro. Obama seems determined to befriend these mortal enemies. Then there are peoples, nations, and leaders which share natural interests with America, like Israel, Poland, India, Columbia, and Britain. Toward these nations and their leaders, Obama seems bent on being the very ugliest Ugly American.