Something about Obama reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact: his ear-to-ear grin and friendly hug when meeting Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Just as their countries headed toward an all-out war, the Soviet and German foreign ministers smiled to each other and professed common goals and friendship. The incident differed from the common monarchic practice of friendly correspondence during wars. When the British, Russian, and German monarchs addressed each other, “Dear Cousin” in friendly correspondence as their nations were locked in WWI, at least they were indeed cousins.

Here is the key to understanding the Obama-Chavez embrace: they feel like cousins. Like most rulers, Obama’s allegiance is to his fellows in the ruling class rather than to his people. Especially in Obama’s case, what are his people? He ignores his paternal nation and even his Kenyan relatives to the extent that his brother is left to sell drugs. He cares not for Indonesia where he went to school. He is hardly mindful of Britain, whose citizenship he received at birth and has not renounced since. A Muslim apostate and a friend of Christian radicals, a supporter of AIPAC and the anti-Semitic left, a Harvard graduate posing as the people’s president—whom can he have allegiance to?

Dangerously, rootless Obama instinctively leans toward leaders with strong roots. At the G-20 summit he bowed down to the Saudi king. It is highly likely that he respects Chavez and Ahmadinejad.

Hugging Chavez would come naturally to Richelieu or some other Machiavellian politician, but it is rather odd for Obama the idealist and paragon of honesty. Here is the problem: for high-flown idealists, our earthly problems are negligible. The ideal of friendly relations between the liberal United States and some of the worst dictatorships justifies Obama’s closing his eyes to the very reason why the relations were bad in the first place. The hosting of Russian strategic nuclear bombers, strong cooperation with Iran, nuclear aspirations, the breaking of ties with Israel, and the persecution of political opponents are just minor deficiencies which cannot prevent Obama from developing an ideal relationship with a fellow president. Likewise for Iran: the extortion arrest of an American journalist, support for Iraqi terrorists who kill American soldiers, nuclear and ballistic missile programs, gross violations of civil rights, a professed desire to annihilate America’s only true ally in the Middle East—all those minor issues do not bear on the negotiations.

Importantly, the thugs must be big in order to merit Obama’s goodwill. American rapprochement with Syria remains low-profile because Assad lacks the international prominence of Ahmadinejad; the Iranian acutely senses that and drums up his militant rhetoric to draw Obama’s attention. Bubbles are empty, so at least they have to be huge. The bubble of Obama’s ideals calls for mega-solutions: from the three trillion dollars of aid in his first three months in office to engaging the world’s most notorious dictators.

As during WWI, no amount of goodwill among rulers can solve their nations’ conflicts. Rulers have very little influence on their countries’ policies, which are dictated by media and run by bureaucrats. In a sense, good relations are counterproductive, as they force the rulers to gloss over the conflicts rather than solve them. Obama, a friend of Chavez, cannot afford to push him on any of the real issues. Indeed, Chavez embraces Obama only insofar as he tolerates the Venezuelan’s hostile behavior.

The enthusiasm for Obama expressed by Latin American leaders at the Summit of the Americas is revealing: they read him as willing to level the playing field. In other words, they are happy that the United States is stepping down to their level. Such an arrangement is unworkable. Truly stepping down and behaving as one among equals is senseless for the United States, which is not equal to Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Guatemala. Stepping down means accepting their dictates; the US has no reason to submit to the third world countries. If carried out, such a policy would betray American interests.

Obama could state honestly and forcibly that, while the United States cares about their needs and opinions, it remains a supreme arbiter rather than an equal member, and demands respect and submission as such. Honesty, however, is alien to idealist thought, which is used to rejecting the facts.