Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
Right now we don't have a President of the United States. What we do have is a man running for re-election, who's every move, every statement is aimed at the voters in the U.S. to fend off criticism and separate himself from his Republican opposition.
Just take Obama's visit this past weekend to something called the "Nuclear Security Summit" in Seoul, South Korea.
To the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un (who was not in attendance) Obama urged him to "have the courage" to step away from its nuclear weapons program while threatening "you can continue down the road you are on, but we know where that leads." This road would lead to "more broken dreams, more isolation and even more distance between the people of North Korea and the dignity and opportunity they deserve." He said China (North Korea's primary ally), was seemingly "turning a blind eye" and "trying to paper over" North Korea's provocation." The president is to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao later today.
To the Iranian leadership he said, "time is short" to step away from developing a nuclear weapon.
On Sunday, Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan declaring themselves in agreement that Syrian President Bashir Assad should step down and discussed ways of getting non-lethal aid to Assad's opposition.
So what is one to make of Obama's trip to Asia at this time, the impact of his statements and just who they were intended for?
As to their effect on the leaders of North Korea, Iran and Syria his words were meaningless. North Korea and Iran have traveled their own path for decades and with different leadership, mostly in opposition to the U.S. and the sanctions we place on them. Assad clings to power in Syria, has Iran as an ally and China and Russia prevent the U.N. from authorizing any military intervention in Syria.
So Obama's sojourn to Asia and the words he uttered were really just for domestic consumption in the U.S.
He was "tough" with veiled threats to North Korea and Iran that keeps the Republicans at bay and accusing him of being weak on the nation's defense.
He was "presidential" using words like "courage, dignity and opportunity", words hardly expressed by any of his likely Republican opponents he'll face next November.
So in truth call this trip by Obama as a campaign swing even though is was half way around the world. The media covered it and dutifully reported it to the American people. It didn't cost his presidential re-election campaign a dime and he got free publicity.
Of course Obama isn't the first American president to use a foreign stage as a campaign tool for trumpeting his re-election prospects.
But this was crass election year politics cloaked as a trip to deal with "nuclear security."
A "real" meeting about "nuclear security" would have had ALL the world's nuclear armed states in attendance discussing ways to make the world nuclear weapons free and destroying ALL their existing nuclear arsenals.
But of course the U.S. with the world's largest nuclear arsenal isn't about to take the lead on eliminating its nuclear arsenal or suggesting ways to make the world nuclear weapons free.