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A Fractious and Self-Centered Rabble

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  • A Fractious and Self-Centered Rabble

    A remarkable amount of rubbish is written and spoken about U.S. foreign policy. I suppose that’s always been the case, but it’s reaching hilarious levels lately. My favorite howler is the one about how the Obama administration spends all its time worrying about what Europe thinks of its policy and clearing everything with them in advance. That’s a real knee-slapper.

    For several weeks a gaggle of European diplomats and protocol experts have spent large chunks of their waking life wrestling with the thorny issue of when and where people would interact with President Obama at the upcoming U.S.-European Union summit in Madrid. After much political give and take, and hours of hard-headed negotiations, the following compromise was hammered out: Spanish President Zapatero, also the rotating E.U. president, would shake Obama’s hand in welcome. Then the new permanent president, Belgium’s Van Rompuy, would sit across the dinner table from him. Also sharing the table would be the new E.U. Commission President Barroso.

    Imagine their disappointment when the U.S. administration announced President Obama would skip the summit. Now imagine how they felt when we didn’t even bother to tell them directly – they had to read about it in the papers.

    “The diplomatic world knows no greater rudeness than to skip a planned summit – and to announce that cancellation through the media,” declaimed Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, and let me tell you, if anyone knows anything about international rudeness, it’s probably the Germans. Harrumph.

    Of course, the fact that people have had to spends days trying to ...


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