Reading material

This is the most devastating international analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency that I’ve ever read.

He made lots of speeches, mostly good ones, but each slightly less interesting than the last. He held out the hand of friendship, but many people refused to take it and it began to hang a bit limp. America had no quarrel with Islam, he told audiences in Cairo and Istanbul, but this had no effect on those extreme Muslims who believe that Islam itself is, and always will be, a quarrel with the West.

The new American foreign stance was to be chilly towards friends and nicer towards enemies. Out went the bust of Churchill from the Oval Office, and the Obama administration sent no high representative to Lady Thatcher’s funeral. Israel and Saudi Arabia, America’s most important allies in the Middle East, felt disrespected. There was a sharp contrast between Obama’s dropping of his country’s old friend Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in the face of the Arab Spring, and Putin’s staunch and successful defence of his ally, Bashar al-Assad, in Syria. In Iran, the country where pro-Western feeling is strongest among the population, President Obama did nothing to fertilise the shoots of the “green revolution”, and effectively let the Islamist regime develop its nuclear programme unmolested.

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