By Barry Rubin

Sigh! It’s just one humiliation after another for the Obama Administration. If the American mass media really added them all up the resulting list would be devastating. And now: Brazil.

Just think: Obama invited Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the White House and praised him wildly: Obama called himself “a great admirer of the progressive, forward-looking leadership that President Lula has shown.” This is despite the fact that the Brazilian leader is as close to a Communist as you can get nowadays, has sunk his country into huge debts, and has been a major critic of the United States.

Even the New York Times reports that the Brazilian president “has challenged the United States on everything from trade and climate change to last year’s coup in Honduras to Washington’s longstanding embargo against Cuba.”

This is apparently the kind of thing you have to do to get a warm greeting and enthusiastic praise from Obama.

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And then what does “Lula” do after being feted in the White House?

Naturally, he is trying to destroy U.S. efforts to raise and enforce sanctions on Iran. Lula has tried to save Iran from sanctions by putting together a phony diplomatic deal on Tehran’s terms. And guess who his partner is in trying to sabotage sanctions and help Tehran? Why that “moderate Muslim” regime in Turkey for which the Obama Administration has had so much praise!

Now Lula has just visited Tehran in person and proposed that Brazil should provide Iran with equipment and parts to modernize its oil production while Iran assists Brazil in deep-water drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean. Lula also said he would urge Brazilian companies to invest in Iranian refineries. There can be no doubt that Brazil will oppose sanctions in the UN.

Seems Lula is a “great admirer” of the Islamist regime.

So once again—as with Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and a lot of other countries, Obama’s efforts to suck up to radical regimes has backfired in making them more confident about defying U.S. policies and interests. At the same time, his backing, praise, and at times money has had no effect on making them more friendly to Washington.

Have you noticed that all of America’s enemies–treated so nicely by the Obama Administration–have thrown pies in its face, while none of America’s real friends–even when treated shabbily–do so? As I’ve previously suggested, George W. Bush’s “you’re with us or against us” had serious flaws, but Obama’s “if you’re against us we’re with you” is worse.

Perhaps Obama’s doing something wrong? Maybe the treating-enemies-nicely-and-friends- badly formula should be reconsidered. You think? 

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to