3 Futures for Obama’s Foreign-Policy Table Manners


Posted on October 28, 2013 by Ruth O’Brien

Remember when George H. W. Bush vomited in front of 135 leaders at the Japanese prime minister’s home, all filmed on TV?  Well that was pretty bad, but he was ill, so at least this was explicable or comprehensible, even if it was embarrassing (or yucky).

And, throw-up or not, clearly Barack Obama’s foreign-policy table manners are much worse.

With the plot thickening as all the details have started rushing in (George W. started spying on world leaders, not surprisingly, in 2002), what’s an American president to do?   Obama didn’t tell the whole truth, and Angela and François are rightfully peeved.  This is not going to “blow away” or blow over, as Obama hopes.

It’s time for Obama to pick up the phone again, and this time offer to hang out in Paris or Berlin (how bad can that be, after all?) and suggest that the French-German EU initiative against his own spying be turned into a template for a UN resolution.

How better to defuse a conflict than to go to that table to which you’re always calling your enemies?  Between them, Merkel and Hollande said they’re looking “forward” at least three times.  So they are ready to put this behind them, as long as Obama is willing to lose a little face and do some very public face-saving makeup.  I’d recommend some serious public sitting-at-the-table time.

Heck, I’d go even further, since you are so long due at the table, and work on a UN initiative about freeing whistleblowers, like Edward Snowden.  Don’t come up with your own policy — make it a UN policy to undermine the “Democrats are weak when it comes for foreign policy” narrative, so you can help your former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and make the Democrats a stronger team.

Given the Republican civil war, this means you can even make the War on Women global.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  Then watching those Republicans run for political cover in their failed attempts to run for federal office (link Virginia failed race ox Y) would be all the more enjoyable, no?  Now that Obama and the congressional Democrats won the government shutdown, let’s turn them into the running political soap opera of 2014 that they deserve to be.

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Faculty/Core-Bios/Ruth-O-Brien)

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