Obama's Aloofness Is Getting People Killed
The world's greatest orator can't move the ball in the Middle East for the same reason he can't move it in Washington.
If Mr. Obama had cultivated closer ties to the Saudis, he might have bought time for negotiations between the Bahraini authorities and the chief Shiite opposition party, Al Wefaq, according to one American diplomat who was there at the time. Instead, the Saudis gave virtually no warning when their forces rolled across the causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the ensuing crackdown destroyed all hopes for a peaceful resolution.The lingering resentment over Mr. Mubarak’s ouster had another apparent consequence. Mrs. Clinton’s criticism of the military intervention in a Paris television interview angered officials of the United Arab Emirates, whose military was also involved in the Bahrain operation and who shared the Saudis’ concern about the Mubarak episode.The Emiratis promptly threatened to withdraw from the coalition then being assembled to support a NATO-led strike against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader. The Emiratis knew they were needed to give the coalition legitimacy. They quickly named their price for staying on board, according to Arab and Western diplomats familiar with the episode: Mrs. Clinton must issue a statement that would pull back from any criticism of the Bahrain operation.The statement, hastily drafted and vetted by Emirati and American officials, appeared soon afterward, in the guise of a communiqué on Libya.The tensions between Mr. Obama and the Gulf states, both American and Arab diplomats say, derive from an Obama character trait: he has not built many personal relationships with foreign leaders. “He’s not good with personal relationships; that’s not what interests him,” said one United States diplomat. “But in the Middle East, those relationships are essential. The lack of them deprives D.C. of the ability to influence leadership decisions.”
Meanwhile, Obama hasn't learned a damned thing.
Obama also faced criticism for not scheduling a single meeting with a foreign leader during his 24-hour trip to the U.N. but finding time Monday afternoon to tape an interview with ABC’s daytime chat show “The View.” He held 13 bilateral meetings with foreign leaders at last year’s United Nations General Assembly.
Carney didn’t offer a reason for the lack of meetings, but he said Obama has held “extensive consultations” with world leaders since taking office. He noted that Obama “just in the last few weeks” had talked with the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Turkey and Libya, and that those talks would continue.
Romney campaign officials said the lack of meetings suggested Obama has been disengaged on foreign policy – an area in which the Democratic president has had a decided edge, particularly after the death of Osama bin Laden.