Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Meeting That Changed The World

When Obama was elected, one of the side-effects was supposed to be a return of American prestige. We were told the free world would rally behind Obama and we would enter a new age of international cooperation. Our enemies would stop their evil ways and our friends would join us in creating a brave new world. But our enemies saw Obama’s strategy of leadership through weakness as just plain weakness. And now it looks like our friends are abandoning us as well. . . for China.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of hints about the erosion of American prestige among our friends. When the Honduras issue arose, “our friends” in South America didn’t turn to us to solve the crisis, they looked to Brazil. Our friends in South Africa have ignored our efforts to solve the man-made disaster (an appropriate use of the term) in Zimbabwe, and have actively embraced the creature that destroyed the country. Moreover, much of Africa now looks to China for leadership.

Turkey, long considered the most important Muslim country by America, turned away from us as well. They have become increasingly anti-American and anti-Israeli, and are actively looking for new friends in Iran, Syria and throughout the Middle East.

Europe spoke about a new era of cooperation with the United States and then promptly turned their back on us. Rather than embrace Obama’s new regime, they have increasingly looked to the influence of Putin’s Russia on the issue of energy and to China on the issue of economics.

India too seems to have laughed off American leadership. During the cold war, India was relatively neutral, with a slight bias toward the communists. When the cold war ended, India turned its attention to America and worked hard to become our friends. The high point of that relationship came near the end of the Bush administration, when Bush condoned India’s violation of the non-proliferation treaty. Under Obama, that relationship has all but collapsed into mockery.

Brazil, India, and South Africa are considered the most important democracies in the third world. They are the up and comers, the ones that many internationalists think will dominate the future. I don’t buy that, but it would be foolish to deny their significance.

And when Obama ran for office, he specifically mentioned these countries, among others, as candidates for what he saw as a “league of democracies,” a group of like-minded countries that could work together to make the world a better and more free place. Thus, it is quite a blow that these countries have turned away from American leadership. It is even more of a blow that they have chosen instead to look to totalitarian China for leadership.

There was a little-reported event at the Copenhagen summit that highlights exactly how much this relationship has changed. Get this. . .

When Obama arrived at Copenhagen, he tried to hold a meeting of 20 nations. But to his surprise, the Chinese sent vice foreign minister He Yafei instead of Premier Wen. This was an intentional snub.

In response, Obama demanded a private meeting with Wen and got it. But when he arranged a follow up meeting, they sent an even lower ranking envoy.

An upset Obama demanded another meeting with Wen, but was told that he was at the airport. At the same time, Obama tried to arrange a meeting with India, Brazil and South Africa. But. . . He was told that Indian Premier Manmohan Singh had already left Copenhagen. South African President Jacob Zuma at first agreed to the meeting, but then cancelled when he “learned” that India would not be there. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refused to attend as well on the basis that India would not be there.

Eventually, the Chinese agreed to meet with Obama. Obama was told this would be a one-on-one meeting with Premier Wen. So imagine Obama’s surprise when he walked into the meeting and found a meeting already on-going. In attendance were China’s Wen, India’s Singh, South Africa’s Zuma, and Brazil’s Lula. There was no chair set out for Obama.

As White House aides scrambled to find Obama a chair, Obama apparently stated: “I’m going to sit by my friend Lula.” He then attended the rest of the meeting and “achieved” his non-agreement agreement, which he trumpeted as the agreement that saved the conference. . . a claim which official Chinese newspapers called “grandstanding” and which environmental groups call fraud.

There has been much debate outside of the MSM about what this event means. Team Obama has tried to downplay this as mere confusion and by claiming Obama didn’t crash the meeting because he was invited by the Chinese. But that’s all about saving face.

In reality, this is an ominous signal that these three “great democracies” no longer see American leadership as relevant. They now look to China for leadership. There simply is no other interpretation for these leaders lying to Obama about being in Copenhagen and then meeting secretly with China.

By the same token, the one thing most observers have missed is that the Chinese invite had to be intentional. So far, everyone who has discussed these events has attributed China’s inviting Obama either to confusion or to Obama crashing the meeting. But they’ve all missed the point. The reality, I’m afraid, is a bit more obvious -- China wanted Obama to arrive at this meeting and see them leading Obama’s “friends” by the nose. This was a set up to demonstrate China’s new influence to Obama in the most personal of ways.

While this is no doubt embarrassing to Obama, this should be of greater concern to all Americans. If we have lost our leadership role among the world’s democracies, then it’s going to be an ugly century. The Chinese way is mercantilism, not free trade; oppression, not freedom or human rights; and neocolonialism and client-states, not a world of colleagues.

This could get ugly.


StanH said...

Wow Andrew, Barry the Boy Wonder what a fool. This is why summits with the president usually are preplanned and the results are known, the finer points are debated in the periphery. This is to keep the image of the president as one of strength. It’s dangerous for the world to believe our leader is a clueless dupe. Three years and counting!

AndrewPrice said...

Isn't it amazing Stan. Could you imagine any democracies acting this way with Reagan?

Obama better take note of this and start adding some muscle to his foreign policy and discipline to his spending or it's only going to get worse. And if he loses the world's democracies to China, then it's going to be a very ugly period for the world.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: These incidents are all horrible indicators of the loss of American prestige. Obama has hurt us deeply on an international scale with his non-leadership leadership. Power abhors a vacuum, and he left one for the Chinese to step into. China will be a strong competitor no matter who is sitting in the big chair at the White House.

But as you indicated, nothing is either inevitable, or impossible to overcome. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance," and Obama is asleep at the switch. It will take a long time to undo the damage, but I have enough faith in America to believe that they will toss this prissy waffler out of office at the next election, and put a strong president back in power. It's part of that American exceptionalism I wrote about earlier. We make mistakes--we remedy them.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think Obama could fix this, but he's going to have to grow up fast, or he's going to face many more meetings like this.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I'd like to think that's true, for America's sake. But I have absolutely no faith in this spineless jellyfish. The "empty suit" appellation seems to fit him perfectly, and I don't think he can stand up to anyone without his goons around him. The best thing he could do is to have Dick Cheney accompany him to every meeting with foreign leaders. Nobody's going to mess with the president with Cheney close by.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

It's tough to look like a world power when you have tin pot dictators in your cheering section.

Tennessee Jed said...

Obama may appear on the surface to be marginally more popular than Bush, due to the works and ways of the leftist dominated media, but he cannot escape the fact he is still the official leader of the United States.

The fact of the matter is, we are seen as an old school western democracy who is envied for our wealth by most of the world. A lot of these countries are all too happy to identify with the new "big kid" on the block.

AndrewPrice said...

Skinner, That's very true. Plus it's hard to look like a world leader when you backtrack on all your promises, you play petty games with foreign leaders, you won't back up your words with actions, you seem indifferent to foreign affairs, and you spend yourself into such a state that everyone who holds your currency is worried about it and everyone else knows you can't afford to do anything for the next decade.

Sadly, that's our President right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, You're right, and it is important to realize that popularity is not the same thing as respect or leadership.

In terms of our place in the world, there is much to what you say. I think that many of these countries (1) don't want to make the hard choices that being a true democracy require, like granting their citizens full freedom and allowing free trade -- which makes the Chinese model of quasi-freedoms and mercantilism so attractive, and (2) we don't seem like the dynamic big player that we used to be, not compared to a country like China.

All of that could be fixed though with less government at home and a stronger stance on freedom abroad.

Writer X said...

It might be obvious to us but Obama is and continues to be delusional. I don't believe he's man enough to suck it up and change course. Nor are his handlers. Everything is always someone else's fault. It's going to be a long three more years, too. He's already done more damage than he'll ever realize.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, You're right, the next President is going to need to clean up this mess and will then be blamed for all the problems they run into, even though Obama caused them.

At some point, I have to hope that Obama's ego kicks in and he decides to stand up for the country, but that could be a looooong wait.

Anonymous said...

thanks for pointing this out, the MSM sure didn't mention this

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Anon, I haven't seen it in many places either. In fact, I didn't post this for a while because I didn't see anyone confirming the story until the other day when several other sources started reporting it.

MegaTroll said...

Wow! I never heard about this! This is not good news. Thanks for pointing this out.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Mega -- spread the word. People need to hear about these things.

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