Saturday, November 21, 2009

Obama Comes Home From China--Learned Nothing

President Obama has returned from his Asian junket, having learned nothing, accomplishing nothing, and lowering American prestige throughout the world. Beside the insane bow/handshake with the Japanese emperor, Obama spent most of the trip looking like an uninvited guest at the Chinese family dinner. He gave a semi-lecture on free speech and condemning censorship to a government hand-picked audience which was seen by practically nobody in China because, well, they censored it.

After the orchestrated meeting with the Young Communist League, he had a half-hour news conference with China's President Hu Jintao. Obama came off as the leader of a second-rate nation being granted an audience by the president of a real country. No western news media were allowed to ask any questions or in any way participate in the "news" conference. At least it didn't have to be censored. The whole thing was a put-up job. And the naive president from the minor country in North America looked like a whipped dog. No president in American history has ever looked so weak and so foolish in the presence of a foreign leader, let alone a repressive regime such as China's.

Every president since Nixon who has visited China has been treated as a powerful leader of a potential ally or potential enemy. But either way, the president was a fearsome presence. And they always came back with something positive for the American people, from an agreement to have further discussions to actual treaties. What did Obama bring back? Nothing. And in the process he made the United States look like the toothless tiger that Mao described half a century ago.

Obama had set out goals that he wished to at least start accomplishing before making the trip to China. Let's see how he did. He wanted to encourage Chinese/American trade relations, and instead got lectured about American protectionism. And he had an opportunity to strike back. Any previous president would have hit Hu Jintao between the eyes over Chinese currency manipulation and its own protectionism. Instead, Obama stood like an errant child with no debating skills and no preparation for defending his nation's position.

He went to ask for China's assistance in pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear production program. The Chinese just laughed. He went to see if he could make some progress in getting China to clean up its act and assist in the campaign against global warming. The normally inscrutable Chinese leaders laughed even louder. And as to manipulation of currency, when he did finally address it as an afterthought (he must have found his script), the Chinese made another half-hearted promise to look into its purposeful devaluation of its currency.

His trade mission went just as well. The U.S. had just been recently criticized at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum by such notable capitalist nations as China, Russia, and Mexico for protectionism. Rather than defend America during the Chinese visit, Obama lamely suggested that America might possibly join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a nearly unknown trade pact. And yet, Obama proudly proclaims that he is the first "Pacific President."

The only good thing that came out of the wasted visit was that the American press coverage was remarkably unfavorable. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post finally climbed out of the tank and offered serious criticism of the president's visit. As Barbara Demick of the L.A. Times said: "Not only is the U.S. president coming away without definable concessions, but the Chinese appeared to be digging in their heels."

I wish to acknowledge the fact-gathering done by Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard. I had been jumping from news to blogs to political commentary on Obama's failed visit, but Barnes put the facts together in an easily understood format.

Meanwhile, over at the Wall Street Journal, Leslie Hook reports on the China that Obama chose not to look at. Religious freedom is being suppressed every day, as it was during Obama's visit practically under his nose in Beijing. "Yet had Barack Obama wanted to understand something of the real China, his time would have been better spent here than at the various state dinners, Forbidden City photo-ops, and carefully managed town-hall events that consumed the balance of his trip this week."

Ms. Hook carefully tracks an actual event going on in the capital concurrent with Obama's visit. "On Sunday, more than 500 members of Shouwang church gathered at the cinema for a service. Shouwang, founded in 1993 by pastor Jin Tianming, is one of the city's largest unregistered churches and counts around 800 regular members. But until last weekend, they had never once been able to meet in such large numbers in an indoor space in Beijing." So why the generosity allowing them to meet just at this time? It got them off the streets and not visibly being arrested for defying government prohibitions against traditional or non-government approved religious practice.

The story of the Chinese church suppression is very much like the oppression of early Christians. The vast majority of the members are not political. They are urban intellectuals and seekers of a divine purpose in life who feel their conscience requires that they continue to worship in their own way. But even though the churches preach nothing against the government, their very existence is considered subversive because they believe there may be a higher authority than the government and worship conducted solely under government rules is a violation of their right to believe in God in their own way. Rome, Beijing, not much difference.

Since Obama's strongest religious stand is avoiding letting anyone know what he actually believes, it probably should come as no surprise that the religious freedom movement in China interests him not at all. Citing a specific example of governmental tyranny such as the attack on the free churches would deviate completely from Obama's "human rights" pablum. It would require him to demand a specific protection for a particular violation of a particular human right. And that would have offended his hosts.

So even if Obama learned nothing, we learned a great deal. He is scared spitless of communist dictators, he is incapable of defending anything America does, he is as deferential as a serf of old toward eastern potentates, and religious freedom is a non-starter. Next trip may be to Antarctica to apologize to the penguins for global warming. And the penguins will out-debate him. And the best show of all will be when he bows to the emperor penguins.


StanH said...

Aren’t we all so proud! Witless Barry bowing to former enemies, groveling for cash with potential enemies, weakness on display. We are indeed cruising for a sucker punch of monumental proportions, very dangerous. Watch for an Israeli strike on Iran, China seizing Taiwan, Russia rolls into the Ukraine, etc.

Writer X said...

Our president looked positively pitiful and sounded like a clueless schoolboy. What was the point of the trip? Time away from Eric Holder?

Unknown said...

StanH: Obama coming home with his tail between his legs is an embarrassment of unfathomable proportions. But he had to get back in time to destroy the economy with Obamacare. He'll worry about the people who want to kill us later.

Unknown said...

WriterX: It's a good team. Obama goes overseas to surrender American power, while Holder stays at home undermining our national security apparatus. But I guess they have to have occasional strategy meetings where they're both present.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--The suppression of religion bothers me almost as much as the tongue-lashing Obama subjected himself to. He is obviously afraid to stand up for freedom, so why should China (or any other dictatorship) feel the least bit threatened?

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I couldn't agree more. Obama's weakness puts oppressed people throughout the world in a horrible position of feeling abandoned while at the same time increasing the boldness of those who would attack America.

Unknown said...

LOL--The Emperor Penguins! I'm sure Roy and Silo, the gay penguins, will be there with their young 'un, Tango. I don't think he'll bow to them though, because they're just chinstrap penguins, not real emperors. He'll just offer them a belated wedding ceremony.

Unknown said...

CalFederalist: I'm told the ceremony will be a very chilly reception.

Joel Farnham said...

I suppose Obama would have to give the "Penguin Salute" should he go to the Antartic.


Unknown said...

Joel: Hilarious. The perfect flap.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice summary Lawhawk. I was honestly embarassed at the way he way he let himself be treated. I don't think I've ever seen a President let himself be walked over like Obama did.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Thanks. You ain't seen nothin' yet. I've really been stewing over Obama's yellow streak, so I've got another one coming up on Monday. I've had it with this guy!

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