America’s crucial credibility abroad declines with the loss of trust — and respect

The retrenchment of U.S. foreign policy under Barack Obama is triggering major changes in relations with formerly stout allies around the globe.

In Europe, Asia and the Middle East, trust in the Obama administration among U.S. allies is at an all-time low and reflected in numerous policy decisions, undermining one the America’s most important foreign policy assets.

For the United States, relationships with the United Kingdom, Japan and Israel have plummeted. The result is the pursuit by these nations of policies that are much less supportive than in the past of U.S. leadership and foreign policy priorities.

In the United Kingdom, David Cameron and his Conservative Party have just won re-election by a surprisingly large margin. The prime minister’s relationship with President Obama is best described as “proper” but there are no close personal ties like those that marked relationships between past U.S. presidents and UK counterparts.

The UK also is drifting from its past close adherence to U.S. policy directions, eagerly joining the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank being established by China against Washington’s wishes. Once NATO’s second most important military power, the British are focusing spending on domestic requirements and in the process gutting their troop levels to the lowest number of soldiers in uniform in over a century.

In Asia, the Japanese long have relied on U.S. defense assistance, including a “nuclear umbrella.”

But in the face of growing Chinese political and military assertiveness and a U.S. “pivot to Asia” that has yet to produce much substance, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bringing change to Japanese security policy.

Moreover, Japan is moving from its almost complete and constitutionally mandated reliance on the U.S. security commitments to allow the Japanese military to carry out a broader range of military activities, including for the first time support to future U.S. military operations.

Abe moved slowly, our source says, because public opinion in Japan was (and remains) sharply divided over changing the military’s rules of engagement.

It is the combination of China’s growing regional assertiveness, coupled with the Obama administration’s perceived failure to carry out its declared intention to bolster its Asia policy, that’s tipped the balance in Abe’s mind toward revising Japan’s policy on the use of its military. At the same time, Abe, like other Asian leaders, is lured by the prospects of increased trade with China even as it keeps a wary eye on Beijing’s regional policies.

Finally, decades of unshakable U.S.-Israeli relations have foundered on the bitter personal relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The split focuses over Obama’s relentless push to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran — which the prime minister views as hopelessly naïve — and Israel’s settlements policy and refusal to advance peace negotiations with Palestine.

Full article: America’s crucial credibility abroad declines with the loss of trust — and respect (World Tribune)

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