When Barack Obama was president, conservatives criticized him endlessly for alienating allies and coddling adversaries. A mere week after swearing the oath of office in January 2009, Obama began what opponents would soon term his “apology tour” with an interview to an Arab-language television network in which he uttered the following anodyne statement: “We have not been perfect.” He made similar admissions in France and at a Summit of the Americas.
While conservative outrage over this rhetorical self-flagellation was overwrought, the critique was more valid when applied to the actual policies. Obama’s resolve to put “daylight” between Israel and the United States—needlessly insisting, early in his administration, on a West Bank settlement freeze as a precondition to negotiations that not even the Palestinians had demanded—led to a situation today in which Israelis and Palestinians are further away from each other than before he entered the White House. Additionally, Obama’s quest for an Iranian nuclear deal weakened America’s relationships with Sunni Arab allies who rightly fear Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions, and his “reset” with Russia was perceived across Central and Eastern Europe as rewarding Moscow for its invasion and occupation of Georgia the year prior.