Friday, March 26, 2010

Pop Quiz: "Smart" Diplomacy Edition

Which of the following diplomatic triumphs best exemplifies America's new "smart" diplomacy that will check the ambitions of rogue nations and dictatorships around the world and repair our tattered relations with long-time allies?

A) President Obama meets Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao:

B) President Obama meets Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

C) President Obama meets Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Khadafi:

D) President Obama meets Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Bin Faisal Bin Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud:

E) President Obama meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.
(Hint: Well, in fairness, the Chinese are financing -- at least for now, anyway -- a big chunk of that deficit spending President Obama needs so he can transform America into a Western European-style social democracy. And Hugo Chavez did give President Obama a book, even if it probably didn't cost quite as much as those DVDs that President Obama gave to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. And President Obama may actually have been looking over Col. Khadafi's shoulder at the Libyan strongman's small army of Amazon-babe bodyguards, or just have been thoroughly amazed that someone can still be called a "strongman" while wearing that get-up. Or have bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia just to see if Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was up to the task of convincing everyone that a bow was not really a bow. (Gibbs wasn't.) But presenting the Prime Minister of Israel with "a list of 13 demands" and then leaving a allied head of state "to stew" and "consider the error of his ways" takes us back to the far-worse-than-Bush days when it was better to oppose America than to be its friend, because you got a better deal that way. And a more polite reception.

A year ago, I would have chalked this up to a new administration and an inexperienced President who hadn't yet found his footing. But today? This, apparently, is his footing.

If only President Obama would be equally as tough, and in such public fashion, with the Palestinian Authority. And Hamas.)