Monday, November 23

'lost some stature'

Spiegel, the decidedly Left-leaning German news magazine bashes President Obama.

They chide him on the many failings of his recent trip to Asia, how he got suckered into a joint news conference with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, something Bush never did. The White House punted on human rights, climate change and nuclear disarmament.

Also noted: Obama's failed Israeli policy of demanding the halt to settlement building. Now he has no leverage. They posit, "a return to Bush-style bluntness may be coming."

It seems we can depend only on the international press to cover Obama fairly, even to describe him as having "lost some stature," in the wake of Japan pulling "out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign."

Spiegel even pays Obama the ultimate compliment: They compare him to Jimmy Carter.


Anonymous Casey said...

I don't think it's obama's fault that he has less leverage than previous presidents. If Obama appears weak perhaps it is because the US has bean weakened by Bush's 8 years of hedonistic economic and foreign policy fantasies. Foreign allies and adversaries make their own appraisals of our strength/weakness, regardless of what the president says.

This article doesn't suggest any specific ways in which a focus on interests as opposed to emotions could have produced different results. It only makes a nostalgic contrast to Bill Clinton's visit at a time when China was not yet an economic and military superpower. In the long term we can't underestimate the importance of emotions. People really do hate the US and not because of our freedom. Hegemony doesn't work anymore. It's in all of our interests for Obama to show goodwill and give other countries opportunities to collaborate before he introduces whatever big stick he still has into the equation.

It's true though that he'll probably toughen up soon, but not necessarily out of frustration. It's all part of a process. It's just not about "weak" or "strong" anymore we have to come out of our selfish and short-sighted conception of "interest". the world is different than it has been in the past. The stakes are much higher and the old ways of single-minded, national-interest driven and confrontational foreign policy will ultimately lead to economic, military and environmental collapse worldwide. Somebody has to take the lead and start giving more importance to cooperation even if it risks appearing weak. It's much much more complex than "us vs. them." Even the concept of national interest has become a tangled web of interdependent relationships in contemporary international economics and politics.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Kent said...

Obama has a problem because he's not a leader. He also has a problem because he's unfamiliar with American history.

When the President of the United States goes to Russia and misrepresents America's role in ending the Cold War, it's evidence that this man is completely out of his depth.

Bush's 'hedonistic economic and foreign policy fantasies' resulted in (1.) The greatest American economy in history and (2.) The liberation of 50 million Muslims across the broader Middle East.

How ignorant are you?

The world hates us. Have you ever really stopped to consider why that might be? It might have a lot to do with a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Throughout the Bush years Democrats called the President a liar, a moron, illegitimate, a loser, a cacophony of names. They railed against him on the war. They traveled overseas and bad-mouthed him to foreign leaders and foreign media.

Europeans are cowards and populists. Like the Democrats here in our own country. They don't make tough, unpopular decisions. Bush, to his credit, made a lot of hard decisions, the Iraq war, to name one. This, and the incessant bashing is the self-fulfilling prophecy that Democrats created and it's the reason that there is a perception of widespread anti-Americanism around the globe.

There is nothing more important than America's national interest. Your assertion that we can no longer act in our own interest because of concern for other nations or because of the environment is patently absurd. (By the way, there is no such thing as global warming.)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Jaz said...

So far Obama's utterly deferential stance on the world stage is producing negative results. The lesson seems to be the more we give, they more they take. Where is it written that when America makes concessions foreign leaders will return the favor out of sheer good vibes? It isn't and they don't.

As the article points out, nations are compelled to action by interests not general positivity. Sure the world appreciates the kindness of an American president, but at the end of the day they will pursue a course of action that is in their national interests regardless of other circumstances.

We should be allowed to do the same. By suggesting that we not be governed by our own national interests, you seem to imply that we owe the world some kind of payback for being so successful.

But moreover you seem to be arguing that we should take a longer view of Obama's appeasement mentality, that over time we will see positive results so therefore it's strictly then a matter of waiting to see the results of this positivity to come to fruition.

Problem is, we do have many relatively short term foreign policy objectives that require swift and bold action. Preventing nuclear war between Israel and Iran comes to mind. I'm not sure we can afford the almost academic luxury of waiting around for the world to realize how nice we are essentially and find a way to abandon their own agenda that is in conflict with world interests. Obama seems to be losing and not gaining ground on the matter of preventing a nuclear Iran. Obama removed the defensive missile shield from Eastern Europe ostensibly to get Russia on board with sanctions but that fell through. China seems to be steadily losing interest in helping us on that front. Who could blame them? At the rate Obama is spending money for his overly ambitious domestic agenda, China's primary concern is whether or not we'll ever have the where-with-all to repay them. They're certainly not in the mood to be lectured by America on climate change or human rights. Helping us prevent a nuclear iran is not even on the radar at this point.

Speaking of human rights, where was Obama when Iran was brutally cracking down on its own population during the highly contested and rigged elections that they held about six months ago? Sure, he issued a few tepid statements finally after days of beatings and killings, but he essentially remained silent in order to better be able to woo the corrupt Iranian regime into slowing down its race to get nuclear weapons.

It hasn't worked. So far Obama's approach has only succeeded in taking America from the perceived bully of the world to the universally regarded chump.

So while I respect your position of taking a longer a view, the wait and see approach we'll call it, I still think that this diet of strictly carrots with no sticks is getting us nowhere fast. And on many fronts, we're running out of time. I would like to see a much more pragmatic, realpolitik approach from our president rather than this idealistic, pie in the sky appeasement that we're getting so far.

In his over arching effort to be the anti-Bush, Obama seems to be over doing it and going as fast as he can in the opposite direction. Perhaps someday he'll find the happy medium.

5:48 PM  

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