G20 Shows Obama’s Lack of Diplomatic Skills

by Sal on April 6, 2009

in International Relations,Politics

For the man who has been touted to be one of the most intelligent presidents ever elected, and who promised to restore our reputation overseas, Barack Obama has made many boneheaded blunders in the arena of foreign policy.  Sure, all Presidents have a laughable foreign policy moment or two, but Obama’s have become routine and downright embarrasing.  At the G-20 summit and his subsequent world tour (at least this time his world tour is actually as President), Obama has done more to embarrass this nation than he has done to help it.

First, after the Gordon Brown DVD gift fiasco and his refusal to refer to our relationship with Britain as a “Special Relationship”, Obama had some work to do to smooth things over with our closest ally.  His efforts, however, were underwhelming.  First, by giving the Queen of England an iPod complete with copies of his own speeches, he showed himself to be the clueless, egotistical man that he is.  One would think that after the DVD flap, his handlers would have made an effort to make the gift more meaningful.

Then, in his effort to repair the damage he had done over the change in designation over Britain’s relationship with the U.S., he gave a joint press-conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in which he reaffirmed the special relationship.  However, he again put his foot in his mouth by affirming the special relationship with England. The Brits are somewhat sensitive about this.  England represents just one part of the United Kingdom.  Referring to England is like referring to America as New England or Massachusetts.  By referring to England, Obama was leaving out Scotland (Gordon Brown’s home), Wales, and Northern Ireland.  The correct diplomatic terminology would be the United Kingdom.  These may seem like small things to us, but to our friends across the pond it is a very big deal.

Finally, in his most recent gaffe, Obama has referred to a language that doesn’t exist.  In a press conference (video below), Obama referred to the Austrian language.  Now, Austria does not have its own native language.  Rather, it is one of several countries that speaks German.  For the supposed “smartest President ever” to make such a simple mistake is embarrassing (unless, of course, they speak Austrian in one of the 57 states).

Truth be told, most of these and other diplomatic mishaps committed by Obama are small, minor gaffes, with little real consequence except to be fodder for bloggers, and to somewhat annoy countries that are not going to end alliances because of some lack of protocol.  What it does do, however, is lower his credibility in the eyes of other world leaders.  If Obama is making simple mistakes on things small, how is he going to handle the real important things, such as North Korea, the Russians, or foolishly attempting to dismantle our nuclear arsenal, pursuing what Newt Gingrich refers to as a “fantasy foreign policy“?  It is these things that really have me worried.

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