Sunday, September 04, 2016

Great Moments in Pivot History

President Obama is in China for the G20 summit. Behold the fruits of pivoting to Asia and the Pacific.

I've already noted that as America "pivoted" to Asia and the Pacific, that the Middle East has exploded and now Europe is no longer a quiet theater. The "pivot," I said, was more about dressing up a retreat from the Middle East as an advance in the Pacific. Now we see China moving into the Middle East:

Nowhere is China’s expanding hard power more visible than in the Middle East, and it’s hard not to see that at least partially as a consequence of U.S. withdrawal. The United States is still a big player in the region. But as Ambassador Dennis Ross and others have observed, these days Arab leaders are turning to Putin, not Obama, for assistance. Now China is also looking to fill the vacuum.

China is pivoting to the Middle East.

Apparently our pivot to the Pacific isn't tying down China in the Pacific. But what do you expect from a loudly announced pivot that simply focuses a higher percentage of a smaller American military in the Pacific?

So there you go. Our allies may tire of being led from behind after following America's lead for decades; and in the absence of our leadership may--being small nations--prefer to follow the lead of someone else who will pay the price of leadership to get their objectives.

But hey! Threats to America? The important thing is that we did sign a global warming deal with China!

[Despite several points of conflict between America and China], the climate deal set a positive tone [for US-China talks at the G20 meeting in China].

"Just as I believe the Paris agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today's efforts as pivotal," Obama said after he and Xi handed ratified documents to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Feel the positive tone that signing sent:

The problems began as soon as President Obama landed in China.

There were no stairs waiting for him to emerge from his usual door at the front of Air Force One.

So no red carpet stairs as other heads of state used. And it went downhill from there, including a tiff with a Chinese official who argued with our people over protocol and who yelled “This is our country!”

Sounds like the global warming deal didn't set the positive tone hoped for to keep temperatures from heating up on the tarmac.

Oh, and behold the positive tone in the South China Sea:

President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday the Philippine coast guard has observed Chinese barges at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, possibly indicating that Beijing is planning new construction that could ratchet up tensions.

Still, as I wrote a year ago:

You must admit that it is wonderful to live in an era when the tide of war is receding and climate change is our foreign policy priority.

Yes, thank God nearly 8 years of the healing powers of hope and change have reversed the damage George W. Bush did to our foreign policy.

Yet somehow, despite his brilliance and skill in responsibly ending our wars and reaching out to foes to make splendid new responsible friends, President Obama will be the first American president in history to be at war for his entire 8-year tenure.

Are we still calling this Smart Diplomacy?

UPDATE: To recap, our president went to China while China is acting aggressively against our interests; signed an agreement that will slow our economy while letting China's grow before China promises to do anything; and had his nose publicly rubbed in his status by being treated rudely by his Chinese host upon arrival.

No word if the president's bed was short-sheeted, too.

UPDATE: And China says it is our fault. Well, they have a point only if you mean it's our fault we seem like an easy target to push around.