Obama may be schooled in Alinsky tactics and Chicago thuggery, but he’s no match when it comes to the Chinese.
Chinese are no fools. Even less are the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party/government. They got to where they are by not only surviving in a brutal system, but out-maneuvering others to claw their way to the top.
China is the world’s oldest continuous civilization, with a recorded history of more than four thousand years. It’s also a decidedly authoritarian culture where interpersonal relations are hierarchical in nature. With the exception of friend-to-friend relations, every dyadic relationship is between an authority superior and inferior — what the Japanese call oyabun and kobun. Born and socialized in that culture, Chinese are accutely aware of and sensitive to authority and power: Who has it? Who is more powerful? Who’s the top dog? And to whom should I submit and pay obeisance?
Chinese, therefore, are expert at sizing up and taking the measure of Obama. And they’ve concluded that he is a weakling of little substance — which is bad news for America.
THAT SAME OLD CARTER FEELING AGAIN
Seith Leibsohn – November 18, 2009 – http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=OWZmOWRiYTdjNzNmNDU1Nzc0OTZiYjc1ODI3YjBiOGI
The story continues:
When it came to China, President Obama’s famous powers of persuasion failed to persuade.
He came bearing a long shopping list, including Chinese support for tougher sanctions on Iran and more flexibility by Beijing on currency exchange rates, but Obama was met with polite, yet stony, silences. . . . Not only is the U.S. president coming away without any definable concessions, but the Chinese appeared to be digging in their heels. . . . Perhaps most disappointing was China’s failure to budge in its opposition to tougher sanctions on Iran. With their extensive oil interests influencing their policies toward Tehran, the Chinese are increasingly seen as an obstacle to reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. . . .Obama did not meet with Chinese journalists, lawyers, human rights advocates, environmentalists or any ordinary Chinese, and an expected meeting with Hu Shuli, who recently resigned as editor of China’s leading business magazine, did not materialize.Obama’s limited results in part reflect the profound shift in Sino-U.S. relations and global politics, with China’s rapid rise and America’s weakened position, especially in the wake of the financial crisis.
And now the Washington Post: “If there was any significant change during this trip, in fact, it was in the United States’ newly conciliatory and sometimes laudatory tone. . . . Obama’s trip stood in stark contrast to visits by his predecessors.”This gives me no pleasure to report. One might ask what the Asia trip was for? The two most important things happening in and about Asia are Afghanistan, where President Obama did not go, and China’s support for our attempt at an Iran policy, which Obama did not get. No budging from China. The whole idea of negotiating with Iran was based on sanctions. And the whole idea around sanctions was that it would work if China cooperated. I never thought sanctions would work; I never thought negotiating with Iran would work. And, regardless, China is not playing ball with President Obama — in part because of our “weakened position.”
This is reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter years — the last time the U.S. was seen as weak — unable to move and coax other countries, unable to reassure dependent allies, unable to have the respect of the world and, of course, unable to move the mullocracy of Iran.
As for our “weakened position,” there are any number of ways to change that. Yes, our economy is the first problem and right now we have little leverage there. But our foreign policy has been one of retreat and capitulation as well. We capitulated to China on the Dalai Lama, we are capitulating to the Chinese client state of the Sudan, President Obama on Monday shook hands with the prime minister of repressive Myanmar (another China vassal state), of course he bowed to Japan, he took missile defenses out of Eastern Europe at the request of Russia, he has refused to say anything of strength about Iran, and has shown appeasement to Latin American dictators. Looking at this record: Why would a skeptical country like China think we are strong, deserving of respect?
This is not only sad, it is dangerous. A weak and disrespected America is bad for America, sends the wrong message to enemies (including terrorists), hurts dissident movements abroad, and — as a political matter, again — reminds us nothing so much as it does of the years of Jimmy Carter, which it took even more years to overcome.
Not a very good first year for America, or the world, under a new leadership that promised a new respect, a new start, and a new way of doing business. It’s new alright — it just isn’t any good.
— Seth Leibsohn is a fellow of the Claremont Institute.