He set the tone early in London by minimizing the United States as the global leader. He painted the US not as a leader but as “a critical actor”.
“ I can tell you that what I've tried to do since I started running for President and since I was sworn in as President, is to communicate the notion that America is a critical actor and leader on the world stage, and that we shouldn't be embarrassed about that, but that we exercise our leadership best when we are listening; when we recognize that the world is a complicated place and that we are going to have to act in partnership with other countries; when we lead by example; when we show some element of humility and recognize that we may not always have the best answer, but we can always encourage the best answer and support the best answer.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/News-Conference-by-President-Obama-4-02-09/
In this same speech, during a Q&A session he continued to espouse this ideology. In a continuance of his election campaign he bashed former President Bush- an unprecedented act for a sitting President.
“Q Thank you, Mr. President. During the campaign you often spoke of a diminished power and authority of the United States over the last decade. This is your first time in an international summit like this, and I'm wondering what evidence you saw of what you spoke of during the campaign. And specifically, is the declaration of the end of the Washington consensus evidence of the diminished authority that you feared was out there?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, during the campaign I did not say that some of that loss of authority was inevitable. I said it was traced to very specific decisions that the previous administration had made that I believed had lowered our standing in the world. And that wasn't simply my opinion; that was, it turns out, the opinion of many people around the world. … And so that's not a loss for America; it's an appreciation that Europe is now rebuilt and a powerhouse. Japan is rebuilt, is a powerhouse. China, India -- these are all countries on the move. And that's good. That means there are millions of people -- billions of people -- who are working their way out of poverty. And over time, that potentially makes this a much more peaceful world.”
The onslaught continued in Strasbourg. First, regarding the economy,
“Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened, and the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened.”
Then, regarding US views of and arrogance towards Europe,
“In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
And, yet another attack at President Bush,
“And I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I'm now President and George Bush is no longer President, al Qaeda is still a threat, and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as President, suddenly everything is going to be 0kay.”
And finally in Istanbul, he again went out of his way to point out America’s alleged flaws and imperfections.
“America, like every other nation, has made mistakes and has its flaws”
“And so I think people saw my election as proof, as testimony, that although we are imperfect, our society has continued to improve; that racial discrimination has been reduced; that educational opportunity for all people is something that is still available.”
This language is unbecoming of a US President. Not only is it embarrassing for all Americans to have a sitting President so critical of our country; but it is feeble foreign policy. The nice-sized portion of ‘humble-pie’ that Obama has self-served to America, drastically reduced our credibility abroad. Obama has taken a knee before the game even started. This is of course to the delight of France, Russia, and China, who like nothing more than to see America humiliated. And no humiliation is better than one self-delivered.
But more frustrating, is that it hampers America’s ability to get what it wants in the international scene. There is some sense in working with allies and partners, with negotiations and dialogue, with listening and compromising. I can’t, nor want to, dispute that. There is tremendous value in working with and not against one’s partners. However, Obama’s language does not accomplish this. He now comes to the table looking weak. Rather than displaying an image of a strong, powerful, leader who is willing to dialogue with the world, he systematically reduced America to just one of the masses.
This was a fatal error. The outcome of which was seen in Obama’s failure to achieve his prime objections regarding Afghanistan and the economy. He was unable to negotiate and work with our European partners from a position of power, because he abdicated it immediately. Accordingly, France and Germany now feel greater ease at disagreeing with and pushing around America.
Obama probably thought he was reversing Bush’s unilateralism, and taking a more even-handed approach to the world. What he accomplished was simply to reduce America’s ability to persuade its allies and to lower our power and prestige.