The election of Barack Obama, we were told, would bring new respect and friendship for America in the world.
No longer would we be led by a Texas cowboy ignorant of and indifferent to world opinion. Instead, we would have a visionary leader sympathetic to the governments and peoples of the world.
But Obama’s best moments in foreign policy have been when he follows the leads of predecessors. In his twice-postponed trip to Australia this week, he announced the U.S. will deploy 2,500 Marines there.
Closer to home, crassly political ploys have angered our two geographical neighbors, Mexico and Canada.
Only domestic politics can explain two of the Obama administration’s most controversial moves: exporting illegal guns to Mexico and balking at building an oil pipeline from Canada.
The export of guns to Mexico was the whole point of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ Operation Fast and Furious.
We don’t know for sure why the ATF and Justice Department embarked on Fast and Furious. Officials are keeping mum. But no one has come up with a more plausible explanation than the charge that it was intended to make a case for gun control at home.
In any case, Mexican citizens and government officials are understandably incensed. But maybe not as incensed as Canadian citizens and government officials are over the White House’s decision to punt until after the 2012 election the decision on whether to allow the Canadian firm TransCanada to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Oklahoma and Texas.
This was a crass political decision if there ever was one. What is undisputed is that the KeystoneXL pipeline would create a lot of jobs in the United States — 20,000 directly and more indirectly, the Canadian company says — and will provide us with about 7 percent of our imported oil.
That would be a big plus for energy independence.