President Obama came away from the Korean trade negotiations last week looking much diminished. "U.S. Wields Less Clout at Summit" was the typical headline in the Wall Street Journal.
All this was attributed to many factors -- the slow recovery of the economy, the failure of Keynsian spending, Obama's election losses or the Federal Reserve's egregious attempts to promote trade advantages by weakening the dollar. Meanwhile, the Koreans refused to be cowed, saying the fault lay with the U.S., which hadn't given them enough to review the revisions made in the original agreement struck with President Bush.
Much is obviously due to the President's egotism. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out on Fox News, "Obama constantly feels compelled reinvent the wheel." He can't accept anything from previous Presidents but must put his personal stamp on everything. Thus, he felt compelled to rewrite a perfectly suitable trade agreement handed him by the Bush Administration -- and missed a deadline in the process. Meanwhile, Bush was winning loads of admiration by refusing to say a single unkind word about Obama during his book tour --- even as the new President has spent his entire two-year term blaming everything on his predecessor.
If you really want to see one of the underlying causes for America's diminishing role in the world, however, take a look at another set of negotiations taking place in Washington right now between Korea and the U.S. over the 1974 Nuclear Fuel Treaty due for renewal in 2014.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The American Spectator : Measuring America’s Default From World Leadership