If no one is reporting it, it’s probably important. How important, you can decide.
If the mainstream media is not reporting the aftermath of one of President Obama’s latest forays into the world of international diplomacy, you can assume that it didn’t work out very well.
Obama has often been praised for shifting the focus of his foreign policy in the direction of emerging Asia. Last month the just-re-elected president traveled to Southeast Asia to tout democracy, have a photo op with Aung San Suu Kyi, be treated like a servant by the first lady of Cambodia, and, by the way, to promote a new Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a US president personally, passed almost without comment last week. I refer to the November 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world's population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.
President Barack Obama attended the summit to sell a US-based Trans-Pacific Partnership excluding China. He didn't. The American led-partnership became a party to which no-one came.
Instead, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will form a club and leave out the United States. As 3 billion Asians become prosperous, interest fades in the prospective contribution of 300 million Americans - especially when those Americans decline to take risks on new technologies. America's great economic strength, namely its capacity to innovate, exists mainly in memory four years after the 2008 economic crisis.
I agree with Neo-neocon that Goldman is indulging in a bit of rhetorical hyperbole: it is too much to say that it is the “worst humiliation.”
Yet, it is a humiliation. It is a rejection. It is a defeat for President Obama.
Naturally, no one is paying attention.
Those who thrilled to the prospect that electing Barack Obama would restore America’s stature in the world should rethink their analysis.
Goldman provides the data, by way of facts, figures and graphs demonstrating America’s declining economic importance.
The American economy is stagnant. There is little chance that it is going to become dynamic any time soon. European economies are moribund. Europe is fast making one of Byron Wien’s predictions come true: it’s becoming an open-air museum.
Southeastern Asian economies, plus China, Japan and Asia have increasing been doing business with each other. They are vibrant, dynamic and innovative. They need the American market less and less. They depend less on America.
Thus, they have no reason or interest to form a trade partnership with America that excludes China. They certainly have no reason to kowtow to Barack Obama.
How the Obama administration imagined that it could induce Southeastern Asian countries to forge an alliance with America at the expense of the most important regional economies must count as a great political mystery.
For all we know, Obama believed that winning the election made him king of the world. Isn’t it all about self-esteem?
Obama has mastered the art of manipulating American voters. He did not understand that the American people are not the only ones who get to vote. Even if you fool the American people you have not necessarily fooled the world or the markets.
The markets get to vote. Foreign nations get to vote. In Phnom Penh the nations of Southeast Asia cast a vote and slapped down an American president who was supposed to make American popular again.
Like Icarus, Barack Obama flew too close to the sun.