So, let's get this straight: On a visit to Israel by Vice President Biden, a lower-level, Israeli government agency announces its intent to build more housing units in East Jerusalem and the Obama administration goes nuclear, condemning the announcement as though it was a violation of some sacred agreement between the two countries--which of course it wasn't. The Israeli government, in turn, apologizes for the timing of the announcement but is told that this will not be enough. Israel now must, according to the administration, "prove" it wants peace.
Now, shift to yesterday in Russia: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lands in Moscow and is greeted with news that Russian prime minister Vladmir Putin has announced his government's intention to complete construction of the Iranian nuclear plant at Bushehr this summer, in spite of the fact that the United Nations has declared Iran to be in non-compliance with the its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. When Secretary Clinton mildly complains about the Russian announcement, does the Russian government apologize for the timing, or the substance? Of course not. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, bluntly tells Clinton and the world that the construction will indeed go forward.
A "senior administration official" told the New York Times that "he did not believe that Mr. Putin intended to embarrass Mrs. Clinton." That person should lose their job. Of course Putin meant to embarrass Clinton. But when it comes to Moscow, the administration happily turns the other cheek. As the Times reports, the "American official sought to play down this latest dispute." After all, the White House has bigger fish to fry with Moscow than Russia patronizing a terrorist regime bent on obtaining a nuclear arsenal--like signing an arms control treaty that no serious strategic thinker believes will matter one whit.
Really, it is difficult to describe the administration's behavior these past few days as being other than amateurish and ideologically hide-bound. For the sake of the country and stability around the world, one hopes that at some point soon they will get their act together but, day-by-day, they look more and more like a post-modern version of the Carter team--and that, folks, is not a good thing for either the U.S. or our friends in the world.
Gary J. Schmitt is a resident scholar at AEI.