Mort Kondracke – who comments on Fox News and serves as Executive Editor of Roll Call – notes that while Barack Obama gets a wonderful reception abroad, he doesn’t seem to accomplish much:
But it’s not a good sign that NATO allies did not answer [Obama’s] call for more troops for Afghanistan. They will provide 5,000 trainers, but no more combat forces.
Nor did Europeans — especially Merkel and Sarkozy — go along with Obama’s request to pump up economic stimulus to fight the global recession.
The G-20 summit did agree to an increase in funding for the International Monetary Fund to help emerging economies, including Eastern Europe, but that was not a contested issue. In fact, it relieved the European Union from the burden.
Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev agreed to re-start strategic arms reduction talks — more a Russian priority than an American one — but Obama got nowhere in persuading the Russians to join in stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
Russia’s price for such an effort will be Obama’s cessation of plans to deploy anti-missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama seems prepared to pay that first, after which he will have to hope that Russia plays its part in the bargain…
While he was overseas, North Korea fired off an intercontinental ballistic missile. Prior to that, Obama declared that, referring to United Nations resolutions against Pyongyang, “rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”
But North Korea went ahead. And the U.N. Security Council did nothing because the United States could not persuade China or Russia to impose sanctions, or even make a menacing statement. That’s not a good sign of respect.
And on the heels of the North Korean launch — and a successful Iranian satellite launch in February, meaning it has its own ICBM — the administration announced that it was cutting missile defense by $1.4 billion.
Obama said again and again on his trip — correctly enough — that the problems of the 21st century cannot be solved by military power alone, but require international cooperation.
That’s music to much of the world’s ears. But while world leaders want an American president who listens to them, too much humility could mean not enough U.S. leadership.
If you tally up the G-20, it looks as if Barack Obama has done a great job of addressing the priorities of other nations, but hasn’t done much about U.S. concerns. American concerns – such as preventing Iran and North Korea from making great strides in their WMD programs – will get attention later, once our grateful allies repay Obama’s kindness with theirs.
What could possibly go wrong?