Wednesday, July 08, 2009

President Obama's Tour de Force

In the second of my three articles I want to discuss the continued foreign policy success Barack Obama is having so very early in his presidency. His polished interpersonal communication skills and his willingness to underplay America's traditional strengths have disarmed his friends and foes alike.

In going to Russia he publicized that he wanted to "hit the reset button" on the US / Russian relationship and he most certainly has done that.

A great many of his actual accomplishments were actually negotiated months in advance by experienced negotiators, as has always been done in every administration. That we started new nuclear disarmament discussions was expected and not surprising. Although we should all be relieved.

No, what impressed me were the little cues that actually set the tone for future relationships, and in this arena Obama is the master.

Here is some key observations form the
AFP Press Report:

"The second day of Obama's visit, like the first, proved that Russian-US relations have genuinely begun changing for the better," wrote official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

"In the voice of the US guests, no longer is there is a tone of mentoring, nor is there a desire to talk down to their Russian colleagues," said the newspaper, commenting on Obama's speech.

In his address, which was billed as a major foreign policy address building upon previous speeches in Cairo and Prague, Obama reached out to Russians distrustful of the United States.

"America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia," Obama told an audience of graduating students from an elite Moscow economics school.

He acknowledged the difficulties in forming a lasting partnership between the two former Cold War enemies, but said Russia and the United States now shared common interests on the main issues of the 21st century.

But Obama also praised democratic freedoms -- a sensitive topic for Putin and Medvedev, who have been criticised for being undemocratic -- and said that Russia had to respect the sovereignty of its neighbours Georgia and Ukraine.

I think that President Obama is handling nearly all of these relationships perfectly. Only the rogue state of North Korea remains an enigma. Now it is being widely reported that President Kim is ill and that will likely complicate the matters further. But if Obama strengthens his personal relationships with Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev in Russia it could go a long way in solving that crisis also.


shoo said...

If my enemies elected someone as naive is Obama, I would be thrilled with their choice too. This is why foreign leaders love Obama. They realize he will roll over and give them whatever they want.

Not sure what is going on with the Russia thing...we'll wait and see. So far all he has really accomplished with them is losing a base we needed for our work in Afghanistan.

And I love how he stood up for the man who was trying to violate his constitution to stay in power in the Honduras, instead of supporting the coup that was authorized by their own Supreme Court and the country's legislature.

Lee said...

I will admit the apologize, and snub is a very different tactic.

Along with undermining his own Sec-o-state. At least he is playing to his strengths of talking a lot. How will they react to his established, "no delivery just talk" follow up.

Which is why his Presidential approval index is in freefall.

However, if it gets experienced negotiators and savvy diplomats into places that benefit the US, its a good thing, in a Machiavellian sense.