The perfect companion clip to Ace’s post yesterday on The One’s illusions about what his global charm offensive might actually accomplish. The key bit comes early, at about a minute in. Why hasn’t his glorious restoration of America’s “standing” translated into any foreign-policy achievements thus far? Simple, he says: We’re in the laying-the-groundwork stage right now. Softening up the people. Giving them a jolt of Hopenchange fee-vah that’s going to force their leaders to play ball with America whether they want to or not. Meanwhile, here’s what’s in the Times today:
A week ago, when Mr. Obama kicked off his trip in Japan, things were not so grim. Tokyo welcomed him as much as a celebrity as a world leader, with cries of “Obama-san!” from the people who gathered in the rain to watch his motorcade pass. Local newspapers gushed about how he told his Japanese hosts that he wanted to eat tuna and Kobe beef. Even the ballyhoo from right-wing bloggers back at home over Mr. Obama’s deep bow to Emperor Akihito did not seem to dent Mr. Obama’s image in Japan; his aides said he was unfazed by the criticism.
But Mr. Obama quickly discovered that popularity on the Asian streets did not necessarily translate into policy successes behind closed doors in the Kantei, the Japanese White House, let alone in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Well, fine, but what about Iran? Watch the clip and you’ll see that he’s jazzed about all the international cooperation that’s coalescing to pressure the mullahs. How’s that working out?
Iran’s foreign minister appeared to renege on a pact that the U.S. had hoped would curtail the Islamic Republic’s ability to build a nuclear bomb, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to try to resolve the West’s standoff with Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday in Tehran that Iran wouldn’t send any of its uranium out of the country, as envisioned in a deal struck Oct. 1 between Iranian negotiators and counterparts from the U.S., France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Two United Nations Security Council diplomats said they view the deal as essentially dead, but expect council members to wait until the end of the year before pushing for fresh sanctions against Iran.
Also dead: The possibility of “crippling sanctions,” since evidently America’s standing hasn’t been so “restored” in Russia and China that they’re prepared to agree to any kind of meaningful punishment for Iran. You know what the real punchline of this clip is? For all the bluster about Obama’s “outreach” to Khamenei, his approach thus far has been more or less a continuation of Bush’s approach in the final year or two of his presidency. Lots of blather about dialogue, lots of empty threats, and a few halting attempts at diplomacy, all to no end. The big difference: Bush actually convinced the Security Council to pass several rounds of sanctions against Iran (not that they’ve done much good). So much for charm. Exit question: Does scaring the hell out of our international creditors by running up mind-blowing debt also factor into the “America’s standing” equation, or is that simply a function of The One’s personal appeal?