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June 05, 2009

Smart Diplomacy: Suck Up To Our Enemies, Annoy Our Friends

I guess it depends on how you define the terms.

A few vignettes from Team Obama's brand of diplomacy.

First, Krauthammer on the US, Israel and everyone else.

President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more "dictating" to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."

An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone -- Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."

Next, Germany.

A rift has quietly opened up between Germany and the United States, marked by official statements of harmony and private grumbling. It is not an outright crisis in relations, but there are underlying tensions and disagreements on matters ranging from the global economic crisis to the future of inmates held at Guantánamo Bay.

On a more basic level, there is a sense that the Obama administration is ignoring the needs and counsel of longtime allies.

...But signs of discord were evident even last summer, when Mrs. Merkel rejected Mr. Obama’s request during the presidential campaign to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate, saying it was not an appropriate location for a candidate’s address. Mr. Obama drew more than 200,000 people to hear his speech at a nearby monument.

...There is a sense in Germany, that the smooth Mr. Obama and the flashy President Nicolas Sarkozy of France have a better connection with each other than either does with the serious-minded Mrs. Merkel.

Ah yes, the Obama/Sarkozy connection. Not so great as it turns out.

The Obamas turn up in Paris this evening, but have declined a dinner invitation from the couple next door: the Sarkozys.

President Obama’s reluctance to spend more than minimum time with the French leader on his visit for the D-Day anniversary has come as an embarrassment to the Elysée Palace.

...Mr Obama’s irritation with his French counterpart began when Mr Sarkozy tried to grab the limelight at the G20 summit in London in April and talked condescendingly of the US President in private. Mr Sarkozy told colleagues that he found Mr Obama to be inexperienced and unbriefed, especially on climate change. Mr Obama hit back last month, telling a visiting French minister: “Please tell Nicolas that I shall do my homework, and in two months I’ll know all about climate change.”

Brave Carla Bruni has decided she's willing to risk being seen found wanting for beauty in comparison to Michelle. Obviously the Obama's decision not to dine with the Sarkozys is just out of concern for Carla and her ego.

Remember when smooth relations with our 'friends' in Europe was supposedly so important? The fact that Bush couldn't pull that off was a sign of what an oaf he was. Ah yes, good times, good times.

If Obama's problems with Merkel and Sarkozy really are personal, what's that say about his reputation for getting along with such difficult people? If he holds grudges against allies because of personal snubs, that doesn't sound like a 'world class temperament' does it?

Besides, he doesn't seem to hold a grudge against Chavez for the book stunt or the Iranians for mocking his out reach efforts.

Of course, it could be political differences. As America has lurched left, Europe is sliding to the right (yes, Merkel and Sarkozy pass for conservatives in Eurpoe, well sort of).

Funny how that excuse was never offered to Bush. Besides, how does that explain his apparent lack of anger to the likes of Castro and Chavez? Oh yeah, those differences aren't as big as one might hope.

Somewhere, Don Rumsfeld is laughing his evil ass off.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:23 AM

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