Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Obama Style of Diplomacy

Now they tell us.

Yesterday, the New York Times offered a fine news analysis of the Obama style of diplomacy. Our president, the paper reports, attempts to conduct diplomacy without using a feature that is essential to all successful diplomacy: a personal connection with other world leaders.

Why doesn’t Obama connect with his peers?

Perhaps, because he is an ideologue, functioning within a world defined by ideas and by convenient fictions.

It is also possible that he is uncomfortable in his role as president, does not believe that he earned the position, believes in his heart that he is a fraud and fears that others will find out. Thus, he avoids any human contact, with foreign leaders or Congressional leaders… lest he be exposed.

The story is not new, of course. Coming from the Times, it is noteworthy:

Mr. Obama’s strained association with Mr. Netanyahu, who has clashed with other American presidents as well, has been difficult from the start. But the absence of any real connection between them underscores the rule, not the exception, for Mr. Obama, who has only occasionally invested time in cultivating foreign leaders.

It is a cool, businesslike approach, similar to the way Mr. Obama deals with members of Congress, donors and activists at home. But historians and some of the president’s former foreign policy advisers say the distance the president keeps from foreign leaders leaves him without the durable relationships that previous presidents forged to help smooth disagreements and secure reluctant cooperation.

“Personal relationships are not his style,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former special envoy for Middle East peace in the Obama administration who is now vice president of the Brookings Institution. Mr. Indyk said Mr. Bush and President Bill Clinton “yukked it up with everybody. With Obama, some he invested in, some he clicked with. But you could count them on one hand.”

Of course, administration officials tell the Times that it does not really matter. The Times counters:

Robert Dallek, a historian who has written extensively on the American presidency, called Mr. Obama a “cool customer” and said he appears not to exude the kind of warmth that characterized the relationships between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher or between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

“If a foreign leader connects with another head of government, it can be salutary in helping them work through difficulties or problems that may exist,” Mr. Dallek said. “If they have a lot of animus toward each other, it impedes the diplomatic give and take.”


JP said...

I keep pointing out that he's inert.

Now he's both inert *and* checked out.

He's not a Bush or a Clinton.

He's not forming a political dynasty of any kind.

Can we stop talking about him now?

Because he really is irrelevant at this point.

Sam L. said...

Not completely, not for nearly 2 years.