Monday, July 21, 2008

Obama's foreign relations tour

Maybe it's just me. I am getting older, so perhaps I just don't remember. Or, I may have been younger and not paying attention ... but I don't recall presidential candidates going on foreign relations tours, meeting with heads of state and presenting their own view of what the U.S. should/should not be doing in terms of our relations with other nations.

Regardless of whom you support for the November election, any candidate promoting their own idea of foreign relations with foreign heads of state can have the potential to undermine the current administration's efforts. And such meetings are conducted without the benefit of full knowledge of what the current administration is doing or has done.

Now, many don't like the current foreign relations positions of the current administration. That, however, is not the point. If it's okay to undermine or contradict the official position of the U.S. government when you don't like that position, it is equally okay to undermine or contradict the official position when you DO like it. It can't be just a one-sided position, based upon your own opinion/perspective.

So I'm disappointed that any presidential candidate would act in such a manner. It's one thing to tell the American people what your foreign relations positions would be. It's another thing entirely to try and drum up support for them from foreign nations and citizens.


Kadim said...


I think candidates going to other countries is a little odd as well. This morning I read in the Economist...

"The McCain campaign promptly counter-attacked, saying that Mr Obama was wrong to discount the surge and mistaken in his desire to withdraw troops quickly. The Republican’s foreign-policy team gleefully pointed out that Mr Obama has not even visited Iraq this year to witness the fruits of the surge."

That is what I found really bizarre. The sentence implies (essentially) that the major candidates are now expected to tour Iraq.

Since one side attacked the other for not touring, and now, that side is touring, we can only surmise that, yes, foreign relations tours will become regular and expected of presidential candidates. As strange as that might be.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Didn't we use to call these "shenanigans" treason?

Jay Ott said...


I agree. It's always wrong for anyone, especially those running for office, to be critical about the U.S. as a guest in another country.

This kind of behavior is the behavior of monarchs-in-wating.

I hope you'll bear with me, but here's a personal story.

My aunt was one of those "evil" lobbyists [energy] in D.C. She began her career in the early 70's as a classic liberal working as an intern for Howard Metzenbaum.

Eventually, she ended up a conservative.

A few years ago at her funeral, stories about her change of mind emerged, stories about the people she was seen with in snapshot photos were discussed.

One picture I remember looking at was my aunt and a few other ladies with their arms wrapped around Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson.

Scoop Jackson is best known for his view that foreign policy and national security should never be politicized.

Yet, that is exactly what Obama seems to be doing by having this foreign relations meeting.

Obama took a page right out of the book of the one who might not be the originator, but he is the one who has perfected it i.e. Jimmy Carter.

The A-Hole Lawyer said...

Treason - possibly; at a minimum, unconstitutional and unwise, just as was Nanci Pelosi's trips abroad to discuss foreign relations without the specific tasking by or blessing of the President. The President has complete control CONSTITUTIONALLY over foreign affairs and treaties, any unsanctioned actions by members of congress is a violation of the separation of powers. But, to liberals there is neither any separation or limits of their power.

However, as Kadim posted..... it is motivated and perhaps caused by political rhetoric, making such a trip necessary to the survival of Obama's campaign.


Maggie Thurber said...

I realize that Obama was 'goaded' into making this trip. Many members of Congress have made trips to Iraq to see what's happening there. If Obama had decided to go just to Iraq or Iraq and Afganistan, I really wouldn't have as much of an issue (considering the similar action of other elected officials).

But the scope of his tour is more than just a fact-finding trip for the war.

Sadly, I think this will become a standard for future candidates ... and I don't think that's good for us as a nation.

Kadim said...

I wonder what would happen if the shoe were on the other foot. Let's pretend that David Cameron (the next likely UK Prime minister) decided to make a trip to the order to make it look like he's up on his foreign policy credentials.

He might not meet with the president, as he's only the head of the minority party. He might meet with governors and mayors though, who'd likely welcome him with open arms. What would be discussed would not be actual foreign policy, but what it might be should he become PM.

It's interesting. It certainly makes for a much more complex foreign policy.

Then has a natural limit. Eventually countries will get fatigued of all the talking heads coming over and discussing things that they will figure out it's a waste of time to talk to Senator Random from Walla-Walla and will keep their discussions to the real deal. Only countries who want to spite the current administration will continue welcoming the powerless talking heads--and if they were already in a spiteful mood, the talking heads won't do anything one way or another.

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