Spying on Allies Fits President Obama's Standoffish Profile


'Coolness Has Its Price'

Israel, one of the closest allies of the U.S., was irritated that Obama didn't find time for a state visit during his first term in office. Obama let the relationships with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, and the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki deteriorate so much that the troop withdrawals grew more difficult.

And Obama promised the Asian diplomats that he would be the "Pacific president," but he just cancelled his trip to the continent because the budget debate was more important to him.

So much non-diplomacy is new among U.S. presidents. Reagan wooed Margarent Thatcher. George H.W. Bush confided in Helmut Kohl as Bill Clinton did in Tony Blair. George W. Bush, who many thought was an isolationist, could count on a whole team of "buddies," such as the then-prime minister of Spain, José Aznar, and the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He even entertained them at his ranch in Texas.

Merkel was also invited there, and in return Bush ate a dinner of wild boar in her German electoral district. The chancellor has from time to time said that she values such trans-Atlantic closeness.

That is over. "Coolness has its price," Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl wrote in 2010, adding that Obama appeared to have no genuine friend among world leaders. But what for? He has the NSA.

Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.

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