In the early 1980s, while planning a vacation in Latin America, I went to bookstores to look for histories of the region. All I could find were Marxist tracts arguing that "the people" were exploited by greedy corporations and military dictators, all propped up by the United States.
Available literature on Latin America today includes much more sensible accounts. But some people, including Barack Obama, whose college thesis written in those years has never been made public, seem stuck in a time warp in which the United States is the bad guy.
That, at least, seems to explain Obama's latest foreign policy moves, starting with Honduras, where the president was ousted by the country's supreme court for violating a constitutional provision that forbids any moves to seek a second term. (Other Latin countries, notably Mexico, have similar constitutional prohibitions.)
The White House immediately interpreted this as a military coup and decided that, this time, the United States would come out on the side of "the people." In fact, we find ourselves siding with a friend of the Iranian mullahs, Hugo Chavez, who swept aside similar constitutional limits in Venezuela, and opposing the elected congress, courts and civil society of Honduras.
Honduras is not the only or, sad to say, most important example of where this administration has come out on the side of our enemies and against our friends. Israel has been told that it must stop all settlement construction, even the adding of spare rooms for newly arrived infants, while nothing is asked of the Palestinians.
In Eastern Europe, Obama acknowledged last spring the importance of placing missile defense installations in our NATO allies Poland and the Czech Republic, then reversed himself this month and cancelled the program.
The president of Poland, which has sent brave and effective troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, was given an after-midnight phone call, which he declined to take. The president of Russia, which has refused to aid our efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons programs, expressed his delight -- and pointedly made no concessions in return.
Neither has Russia made concessions in return for Obama's announced plans to cut back sharply on our nuclear stockpiles. The idea behind this is either that others will make similar cutbacks out of gratitude for our example or, more worryingly, that the possession of so many nukes by the United States is somehow a bad thing.