Remember how Barack Obama promised to use “smart power” in his foreign policy to rebuild relations with America’s allies? Earlier this month, Obama had a perfect chance to demonstrate his skills in this area when he met with America’s literal closest allies, Canada and Mexico, at the so-called “Three Amigos” Summit. If you kept up with Obama’s performance in the American media, Investors Business Daily notes, you’d just think that little happened outside of the standard grip-and-grin photo ops and a few good meals. However, if you read the reporting from Canada and Mexico, you’d get a very different picture:
Canada has also all but gone public about something trade watchers have known for a long time: that the U.S. has blocked Canada’s entry to the eight-way free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an alliance of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, and Singapore. Both Canada and Mexico want to join and would benefit immensely.
U.S. media dutifully reported Obama’s false claim that Canada, our top trading partner, is too protectionist — for whom, we don’t know. Malaysia maybe? — even as it’s good enough for NAFTA, the trillion-dollar trade treaty that is the world’s largest.
“Every country that is participating is going to have to make some modification,” Obama told the press.
Canada’s take was far more blunt: “Our strong sense is that most of the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would like to see Canada join,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in essence revealing that it’s the Obama administration alone that is blocking Canada, and suggesting that payback on energy was coming.
So much for Obama’s early claim that he was going to clean up the “mess” President Bush left with our allies and make friends with the world. One amigo muscling another out of a trade alliance isn’t friendly.
How about Mexico? The American media failed to report that Felipe Calderon took a few shots at Obama over Operation Fast & Furious, which made matters even worse:
Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.
The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.
In short, the summit was a diplomatic disaster for the U.S. and its relations with its neighbors north and south. … [I]t underscored the Obama administration’s indifference to anything more than its own political interests.
IBD says that a North American summit should have been a “no-brainer.” Sounds like the approach taken by Obama, all right.
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