Daniel W. Drezner

Michael Goldfarb earns a Vizzini nomination

The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper reads through the fine print of a G-20 pool report:  President Obama] entered the room at 1:15 and took to his left, heading to Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. They chatted for a few seconds before British Prime minister David Cameron joined them. Hard to understand what they were saying ...

The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper reads through the fine print of a G-20 pool report: 

President Obama] entered the room at 1:15 and took to his left, heading to Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. They chatted for a few seconds before British Prime minister David Cameron joined them. Hard to understand what they were saying amid the cameras noise. POTUS then took a stroll to Australian Premier Julia Gillard who got a hug as European president Herman van Rompuy, European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan were watching. Eventually the Europeans got a handshake but Erdogan got the hug treatment….

Isn’t this whole scene pretty standard for President Obama? The Europeans get a handshake and the Islamist Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets a hug (emphasis by Halper).

Michael Goldfarb — Halper’s colleague at the Weekly Standard — goes further, tweeting this anecdote as an example of Obama "hugging enemies, abandoning allies." 

Yeah, I can’t believe that Obama is hugging the personification of an America enemy like, like… a NATO treaty ally’s head of government.  The same country that helped to bankroll the Libya anti-Gadhafi movement and is now creating an enclave for the Free Syrian Army

Yes, Erdogan has clearly made life difficult for another ally — Israel. On the other hand, lots of America’s allies make life difficult for other American allies (see: Gibraltar). That doesn’t mean Turkey automatically gets its ally label revoked. If you look at the larger balance sheet of American interests, Turkey under Erdogan has been neither an enemy like Iran nor a frenemy like Pakistan.  It’s been occasonally aggravating, but really, when it comes to the global political economy, western European leaders like Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have been way more aggravatiing. 

So, yes, Michael Goldfarb has clearly gone Vizzini on the word "enemy." 

To take a step back here, however, Goldfarb’s language raises an some interesting observations.  first, there’s an awful lot of "friend/enemy" distinctions being made among GOP foreign policy commentators.  That’s the one takeaway from Herman Cain’s foreign policy statements to date.  The distinction sometimes useful — from an American perspective, India is a friend but not an ally, while Pakistan is the reverse.  Still, by and large, friends and allies do overlap a lot.  Does this kind if language indicate a new GOP embrace of Carl Schmitt’s worldview

Second, to be blunt about it, is Israel now America’s ally uber alles?  If other countries disagree with Israel, does that mean, in Goldfarb’s eyes, that they no longer qualify as either friend or ally?  Are there any other of America’s friends that fall into this super-special status?  I really want to know. 

The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper reads through the fine print of a G-20 pool report: 

President Obama] entered the room at 1:15 and took to his left, heading to Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. They chatted for a few seconds before British Prime minister David Cameron joined them. Hard to understand what they were saying amid the cameras noise. POTUS then took a stroll to Australian Premier Julia Gillard who got a hug as European president Herman van Rompuy, European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan were watching. Eventually the Europeans got a handshake but Erdogan got the hug treatment….

Isn’t this whole scene pretty standard for President Obama? The Europeans get a handshake and the Islamist Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets a hug (emphasis by Halper).

Michael Goldfarb — Halper’s colleague at the Weekly Standard — goes further, tweeting this anecdote as an example of Obama "hugging enemies, abandoning allies." 

Yeah, I can’t believe that Obama is hugging the personification of an America enemy like, like… a NATO treaty ally’s head of government.  The same country that helped to bankroll the Libya anti-Gadhafi movement and is now creating an enclave for the Free Syrian Army

Yes, Erdogan has clearly made life difficult for another ally — Israel. On the other hand, lots of America’s allies make life difficult for other American allies (see: Gibraltar). That doesn’t mean Turkey automatically gets its ally label revoked. If you look at the larger balance sheet of American interests, Turkey under Erdogan has been neither an enemy like Iran nor a frenemy like Pakistan.  It’s been occasonally aggravating, but really, when it comes to the global political economy, western European leaders like Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have been way more aggravatiing. 

So, yes, Michael Goldfarb has clearly gone Vizzini on the word "enemy." 

To take a step back here, however, Goldfarb’s language raises an some interesting observations.  first, there’s an awful lot of "friend/enemy" distinctions being made among GOP foreign policy commentators.  That’s the one takeaway from Herman Cain’s foreign policy statements to date.  The distinction sometimes useful — from an American perspective, India is a friend but not an ally, while Pakistan is the reverse.  Still, by and large, friends and allies do overlap a lot.  Does this kind if language indicate a new GOP embrace of Carl Schmitt’s worldview

Second, to be blunt about it, is Israel now America’s ally uber alles?  If other countries disagree with Israel, does that mean, in Goldfarb’s eyes, that they no longer qualify as either friend or ally?  Are there any other of America’s friends that fall into this super-special status?  I really want to know. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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