May 29, 2011 - 3:36 am - by Barry Rubin
“If buttercups buzz’d after the bee,
If boats were on land, churches on sea,
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows,
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse….
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.”
–“The World Turned Upside Down,” English ballad, 1643
I think I’ve made a breakthrough in understanding President Barack Obama’s foreign policy of punishing friends, rewarding enemies, and taking risks toward empowering enemies by bashing friends. It isn’t that Obama is a Muslim or a Marxist; it’s that … he is America’s first (and hopefully last) 1960s New Left president.
Think of how the American left looked at the Cold War. For them, the phrase “Free World” was a joke. America’s allies were often repressive dictators. In Europe, even democratic states like Britain and France were, or until recently were, colonial powers.
Vietnam: America supported South Vietnam (boo) and fought North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front (LBJ, how many kids have you killed today; Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is gonna win).
Latin America: In Chile, America supported the army (boo!) and fought President Salvador Allende and the Communists (yeah!). Not to mention those military dictatorships who murdered peasants in South America and killed Che Guevara. And how about those Sandinistas. They wanted land reform and to help the poor and the United States plundered them for United Fruit and other greedy capitalists.
Great Britain: America supported Britain and thought Winston Churchill was a hero, but what about colonialism (get his bust out of the White House!)? Say, in a country like Kenya? Mau-Maus (possibly Obama’s grandfather) who were called “terrorists,” good guys; British, bad guys.
Middle East: America supported the bad guys (Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) against the good guys (PLO, Egypt, Syria, Iraq).
The Communists: They had their shortcomings but at least they wanted to help people, right? And if the USSR was old-fashioned and degenerate, at least there were a lot of cool new revolutionaries.
Africa: Obama’s own father opposed a generally U.S.-backed Kenyan regime. In theory, he was a leftist and a man of the people. In reality, he was a womanizing, alcoholic, and corrupt politician, just the kind of “progressive” Third World politician who pretends to represent the voice of the masses.
And so on.
So the leftist view has been that American allies were bad guys. And since America was also the bad guy, American allies were doubly bad guys.
In contrast, those opposing U.S. policy or allies — notably, Latin American guerrillas; Fidel Castro; the Viet Cong (or National Liberation Front if you wish); Mao Zedong; Che Guevara (remember that Che Guevara poster in the Obama election headquarters in Arizona, was it?); Patrice Lumumba; and so on and so forth were heroes.
Pakistan has it both ways. On one hand, it is an American “ally,” but since it just takes money, hides al-Qaeda leaders, and sponsors cross-border terrorism against India, it is enough of an enemy to receive favored treatment.
So the bad guys to America were the good guys and the good guys to America were the bad guys.
I’m putting this in slangy language, but I’m very serious.
And for someone raised personally and politically the way Obama was (hat tip to Stanley Kurtz and Dinesh D’Souza) this was taken for granted.
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