On January 7, 2015, Paris joined the host of nations that have suffered the pain of a terrorist attack. Muslim terrorists, upset at the publication of satirical reference to God, attacked French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12. In a show of solidarity a million French patriots and leaders of multiple nations gathered in Paris to march in unity and protest. The US failed to send any senior Administration official – which was admitted to be a mistake. But was it?
On Jan 11, 2014, the day of the march, President Obama was at the White House with no scheduled events. VP Biden equally was without event and at home. Secretary of Defense Kerry was in India on a previously arranged trip. Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris, and did not attend the event. The dignitaries that did appear with French President Francois Hollande included: British Prime Minister David Cameron; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; former Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi; Mariano Rajoy Prime Minister of Spain; Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker; Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu; Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania; and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, among other world leaders.
The White House has stated that
“…there wasn’t enough time for the “onerous and significant” security work that needed to take place ahead of a presidential visit.” Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 1/12/15
With that statement, the White House has declared that the security precautions for 40 world leaders was not adequate for the current resident of the Executive Office. It sends a message, that even though the highest law enforcement official of the American Government was in Paris at the time of the march, it was beneath the attention of the Obama Administration to stand besides our allies and even questionable nations – such as Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia – in a show of solidarity for freedom of speech. But to be fair, this is not a new stance by the Administration.
A mistake is an event that occurs that was unintended. A string of mistakes, based on the same underlying premise, is called a behavior. The actions of the Obama Administration was not just a mistake, it was a display of their behavior towards international relations.
Six years ago, President Obama set the tone for international relations, and foretold his international policy mindset, when the Queen of England was given an iPod filled with speeches by President Obama as a gift. The disrespect shown to our most staunch ally has never been fully forgotten. Over the years relations fell even further, to the point that England was slow to join the beleaguered 30 nation coalition to fight ISIS via airstrikes. It’s a significant statement when considering that England has joined and/or fully supported the US in virtually every military action America has undertaken since World War II.
Four years ago, Israel was angered by President Obama as he suggested Israel be reduced to the 1967 borders it won in wars where it was not the aggressor. It was almost that same time 4 years ago that Canada was angered by the decision by President Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline. Three years ago, Mexico was enraged by the revelation of Operation Fast and Furious, and how it had armed criminals and endangered the populace of Mexico. Two years ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel chilled to the relations with the US upon learning that active, and then on-going, ease dropping of her conversations was authorized and defended by President Obama via the NSA Prism program.
There are a host of other international policy issues and events labeled as mistakes and poor choices at the time affecting even less friendly nations during the Obama Administration’s tenure. The “red line” threat with Syria. The constant debate over nukes with Iran. Missile launches and threats from North Korea. The retreat from Iraq and the resulting chaos in that nation’s leadership, as well as the rise of ISIS. The trade of a deserter for 5 known and dangerous Al Qaeda leaders. The near constant barrage of drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and other nations. Of course there is the support Libyan rebels that was rewarded with the death of an ambassador and 3 other Americans.
In fact, there is essentially only one nation that has better relations with the US via the Obama Administration than in 2008 when the US was actively involved in 2 internationally and domestically unpopular wars. That nation is Cuba, and it only gained improvement mere weeks ago.
It can be speculated that the only way the US could have worse relations internationally, under an Obama Administration, is if it were to actively drop bombs on people… correction. Since the Obama Administration does not believe dropping bombs on people is an act of war (as stated when doing this very thing in Libya), and it is actively dropping bombs via drones across a wide part of the globe, active war might be the only way to engender worse international relations.
When President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for the things he would do in the future, the thought that he would alienate the most staunch of US allies while destabilizing 2 governments, engaging in remote controlled drone strikes in multiple countries simultaneously, and emboldening dedicated threats to US security – all topped with a complete disregard for displays reinforcing the call for freedom – was surely not what was in mind.