World

 

Brazil

Mexico

Bolivia

Peru

Trinidad &
Tobago

Venezuela







Very usefull links



 

 


Editorial / Commentary / Opinion

 

Jackson Diehl: Obama's Summit Flop


Just over two years ago Barack Obama triggered the first and most enduring foreign policy debate of the presidential campaign when he was asked whether he would "be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea."

"I would," responded Obama. He later hedged a little but otherwise stuck to that stance through months of pounding by Hillary Rodham Clinton and later John McCain, both of whom called him naive. His advocacy of what he called "direct diplomacy" became a prime feature of his campaign; the suggestion was that this energetic and eloquent man could, as president, bring about breakthroughs in some of the toughest foreign policy problems through his personal diplomacy.

So it seems worth noting that as Obama heads into the homestretch of his first year he has yet to meet with any of the enumerated rogues -- a passing handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at an inter-American summit notwithstanding. Nor is he likely to have any such meetings in the foreseeable future. In fact, one of the emerging lessons of the Obama administration's foreign policy might be summed up as follows: The idea that presidential "direct diplomacy" with actors such as Chávez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il or Fidel Castro is feasible or likely to produce results is, well, naive.

It's not that Obama hasn't tried. According to reports in the Iranian media he has dispatched two letters to Iran's supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He has sent multiple high-level envoys to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Shortly after the administration took office, a new special representative for North Korea publicly offered bilateral negotiations to Pyongyang; former president Bill Clinton later met dictator Kim with the administration's sanction. Obama graciously accepted Chávez's gift of a stridently anti-American book and later dispatched a new ambassador to Caracas. He lifted some sanctions on Cuba.

The problem is that none of this has brought any results. Khamenei reportedly responded to Obama's first letter, but his main initiative this year has been to launch an internal coup against the relative moderates in the Iranian leadership who might favor serious negotiations with the West. The results of the outreach to Syria were manifest a couple of weeks ago when the Iraqi government withdrew its ambassador from Damascus after blaming Assad's regime for continuing to foment terrorism in Iraq. North Korea devoted the first few months of this year to fresh nuclear and missile tests; now it has reverted to its old demand that the United States grant it a peace treaty and recognize it as a nuclear power. And so on.

The administration does seem to be learning from all the rebuffs. One of the first to draw some hardheaded conclusions has been -- no surprise -- Hillary Clinton. In April the new secretary of state suggested at a congressional hearing that bad U.S. relations with Chávez were the result of the Bush administration's refusal to engage with the caudillo. "Let's see if we can begin to turn that relationship," she proposed.

It took less than three months for Clinton to be disabused of the idea -- a stretch during which Chávez took advantage of the administration's extended hand to launch another crackdown on his own domestic opposition while attempting to foment a left-wing coup in Honduras. Now Clinton is devoting herself to boxing Chávez out of the continuing Honduras crisis; far from consulting the Venezuelan strongman, she went out of her way to meet with journalists from a television station he is trying to close.

Clinton dismissed Kim as "an unruly child" several months ago. When his regime suddenly began seeking bilateral meetings last month, she invited him to return to the multilateral "six-party" negotiations organized by the Bush administration. She has repeatedly expressed doubts about whether fruitful negotiations with Iran are now possible. The rest of the administration is not far behind. Both at the State Department and the White House officials are focused not on arranging bilateral contacts between Tehran and Washington but on persuading European governments, China and Russia to support sanctions going well beyond those put in place by Bush. George J. Mitchell, the Middle East envoy, appears to have given up on including Syria in the Middle East negotiations he is preparing to launch.

None of this means that dialogue with enemies is inherently wrong or not worth trying. Obama may yet find an opportunity for talks with Chávez or Assad, if not Kim or Khamenei. But what seems pretty clear is that the most notable foreign policy idea Obama offered during his campaign has fallen flat during his first months in office. When he was asked that question two years ago, Obama was probably thinking about George W. Bush. It might not have occurred to him that American enemies also don't see much benefit in "direct diplomacy."

Jackson Diehl is an Op-Ed writer for the Washington Post. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by The Washington Post, onMonday, September 7, 2009 . Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld. All comments expressed are private comments and do not necessary reflect the view of this website. All comments are posted and published without liability to Petroleumworld.

Fair use Notice: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.

All works published by Petroleumworld are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.Petroleumworld has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Petroleumworld endorsed or sponsored by the originator.Petroleumworld encourages persons to reproduce, reprint, or broadcast Petroleumworld articles provided that any such reproduction identify the original source, http://www.petroleumworld.com or else and it is done within the fair use as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated

Petroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments, share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article, write to editor@petroleumworld.com

Petroleumworld News 09/24/09

Copyright© 2008 respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.

We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ stories by anyone provided it mentions Petroleumworld.com as the source. Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors

Send this story to a friend Any question or suggestions,

please write to:
editor@petroleumworld.com

Best Viewed with IE 5.01+
Windows NT 4.0, '95, '98 and ME +/ 800x600 pixels


TOP

Contact: editor@petroleumworld.com/phone:(58 212) 635 7252, (58 412) 996 3730 or
(58  412) 952 5301

Editor:Elio C. Ohep A/Producer - Publisher:Elio Ohep /
Contact Email: editor@petroleumworld.com
CopyRight © 1999-2006, Elio Ohep - All Rights Reserved. Legal Information
- CCS office Tele
phone/Teléfonos Oficina: (58 212) 635 7252
PW in Top 100 Energy Sites

Technorati Profile

Fair use notice of copyrighted material:
This site is a public free site and it contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of business, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have chosen to view the included information for research, information, and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission fromPetroleumworld or the copyright owner of the material.