…how well does [Obama's rock star] popularity translate into power?asks Josef Joffe about the carrot-throwing Apologizer-in-Chief as he quotes Francis I of France.
How far could President Obama push his agenda with, say, German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Nicolas Sarkozy? About as far as you can throw a piano.
…Mr. Obama has gone out of his way to schmooze with the Iranian mullahs of "Axis of Evil" infamy. In his speeches, he has flattered and fawned over Tehran. He has followed the Europeans in throwing a huge carrot to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: It's okay to go on enriching uranium while we talk. (George W. Bush always insisted on stopping enrichment as the price of bilateral talks.)
The result was predictable. Earlier this week, a journalist with dual American-Iranian citizenship was put on trial for espionage. This is what totalitarians love to do when facing a suddenly seductive enemy. They respond with deliberate provocation to signal "no deal" or "we want a much higher price."
…This litany will lengthen in months to come, but it's not too early to render a preliminary judgment on Team Obama's foreign policy. The basic lesson, alas, is that nice guys don't do better than meanies like Mr. Bush.
That is not how politics among nations works. … Conflict between states is made from sterner stuff than bad manners or bad vibes, past grievances or imaginary fears. International politics is neither psychiatry nor a set of "see me, feel me" encounter sessions. It is about power and position, about preventing injury and protecting interests. Love and friendship move people, not nations.