Regular readers of this blog will know how many times I have decried the laments, from within and without, that “Israel is isolated” diplomatically. Of course recent headlines have put paid to these concerns very nicely, with relations warming up between Israel and numerous African states, China, Russia, Egypt, and even some of our worst Arab enemies.
We can take some cold comfort from the fact that the Obama (mis)Administration has seen a series of failures in its foreign relations for a long time now.
But this weekend we saw one of the starkest “disses” (disrespecting) of the United States from a major power. The Liberty Unyielding blog reports that China openly dissed President Barack Obama as he arrived for the G20 Summit, denying him the red carpet reception at the airport, and treating his entourage very badly:
The diplomatic world is one of rigid protocol and convention, and when both are breached, you know something serious is going on.
Dignitaries arriving in Hangzhou, China for the G20 summit this weekend have been accorded all the expected honors. Well, most of them have been. But U.S. President Barack Obama was not.
You might have seen something already about a Chinese official mixing it up with National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Another Chinese official reportedly yelled at a White House aide when the two got into a confrontation over the placement of media waiting for Obama’s arrival.
But those encounters have overshadowed what is so far the most marked sign of disfavor from China: not providing the ceremonial jet stairway for Obama to descend to a red carpet for his arrival.
The AP story contains that nugget, and it’s confirmed by video of Obama’s arrival.
A confrontation between a White House aide and a Chinese official, and other diplomatic dust-ups were out in the open from the moment Air Force One landed in Hangzhou, site of an economic summit.
The first sign of trouble: There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.
The ones who are in international jumbo jets get the biggest, flashiest stairway. You can see that it’s the same one for all of the dignitaries who have the requisite type of jet. Those arriving in smaller jets, like President Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister Lee of Singapore, come down smaller stairways, but still come out the front of the plane (the dignitary’s exit), and are still escorted across the red carpet.
Obama is not. He departs the plane from the service end, and doesn’t get the red carpet. If you think this doesn’t matter, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The Chinese government clearly arranged this as a diplomatic slap in the face.
And being subject to such a slap is a very bad sign for American interests and the American people. The point is that China doesn’t feel obliged to treat the president of the United States any better.
The article details more altercations between the Chinese Authorities and American staff preparing for the summit, which make for interesting, even entertaining reading.
The Chinese government found a new way to express its contempt for Barack Obama and the United States yesterday.
The Guardian quotes the New York Times report: “The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards.”
Was it something he said? The Guardian considers the possibilities, including the possibility that Obama declined the standard red carpet treatment. I think we can rule that out. The execrable Susan Rice didn’t have a face-saving explanation ready to offer. Rice commented: “They did things that weren’t anticipated.”
Liberty Unyielding provides the conclusion that Susan Rice was avoiding, and it is depressing and alarming:
There’s no talking this away. The treatment of Obama and the U.S. delegation at the G20 summit indicates dramatic deterioration in our relations with China.
It doesn’t matter nearly as much whether China likes us as it does whether China respects us. Obama has made that hard for any nation to do, and it is clear that China no longer does.
I know we can enjoy a shiver of schadenfreude at the United States’ discomfort, and take pleasure in seeing them taken down a peg or two. But the truth is that if the US suffers, it rebounds on all of us. China is no liberal democratic light unto the nations. If they are on the rise and the US is heading downwards, it spells trouble for all of us.
Let’s hope that whoever becomes the next President of the United States will be able to overturn these dismaying turns of events.