If one word can sum up the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, it’s “engagement.” From Cuba to Iran and the Middle East to Russia, engagement is the White House’s magic word, an incantation that it uses to justify everything it does. Engagement’s the improved, touchy-feely way of announcing that you plan to rely on diplomacy, and it’s all the more attractive to liberals as a result.

Diplomacy is really just a means, not an end, but to liberals it can sound suspiciously like old-fashioned, state-to-state stuff. Engagement has a cheerier tone, because it implies that you’re going to get along, not just stubbornly defend your interests and values. It’s all about feeling the other guy’s pain.

Regrettably, as a policy, engagement’s a failure. It’s also an embarrassment. Sometimes, even the White House is compelled to realize this. Last week, the Obama Administration confirmed that, in spite of the massive protests and state-led brutality around the fraudulent Iranian elections, it would not rescind the invitations it had issued to Iranian diplomats to attend 4th of July parties at U.S. embassies around the world.

This was the first time since the Iranian Revolution that the Iranians had been invited to share the hot dogs. When asked if, especially now, this wasn’t a disgrace to the spirit of 1776, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly predictably replied:

“We have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran . . . . We tried many years of isolation, and we’re pursuing a different path now.”

Or not. A day later, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced that the invitations had been rescinded, and that, in any case, none of the Iranians had accepted in the first place. And that sums up one of the problems with engagement as a foreign policy: it turns you into a patsy. If the other guy doesn’t want to play ball – and we have 30 years of evidence that the Iranian regime is not interested in friendly relations with the U.S. – you can apologize for America all you want to and succeed only in looking like a sucker. And that just encourages the other guy to act up again. It’s foreign policy with a ‘kick me’ sign on its back.

When it’s about the 4th of July and hot dogs, that’s bad enough. But when it’s the lives of American men and women in uniform, the war in Afghanistan, and the safety of the American homeland that are at stake, it’s a lot worse. Next month, Italy will host the G8 Summit. In advance of it, the Italians have put a lot of emphasis on their belief that Iran can be engaged into being a responsible player in Afghanistan. But predictably, Iran last week refused to even attend a meeting on Afghanistan with the G8 foreign ministers.

That should tell Italy – and the Obama Administration – something that’s already obvious: Iran is not a responsible player, and it has no intention of becoming one. Pretending that we can engage our way to victory in Afghanistan, or to friendship with the Iranian mullahs, will only encourage them, and distract us from what we need to do to defeat the Taliban, to deal firmly with Iran, and to protect ourselves and our friends from the Iranian missile threat.

Quick Hits:

  • After the House narrowly passed (219-212) the Waxman Markey Global Warming Tax on Friday afternoon, the legislation moves to the Senate. President Obama said he was concerned with the new tariffs included.
  • New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman accused those who voted against Waxman-Markey of committing “treason against the planet” and said global warming was a bigger threat to America than terrorism.
  • A military led coup in Honduras ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya. The Honduras Congress also voted to remove him. Zelaya had wanted to eliminate presidential term limits. Hugo Chavez and other leftist leaders condemned the coup. President Obama said he was “deeply concerned.”
  • 300 boxes of new material from Sonia Sotomayor’s time at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund were discovered last week. Senators have asked for time to review, with hearings slated to start on July 13.
  • Thousands of protesters in Iran took to the streets silently on Sunday, as Iran continued to detain British embassy workers who they accused of stirring up the demonstrations.