Monday, November 16, 2009

World Leaders Wistfully Yearn for the Halcyon Days of... George W Bush?

This is neither a typo or an excerpt from the Onion.  Courtesy of Bloomberg:
Obama is using the trip to redefine the U.S. relationship with Asia from its biggest debtor and largest single buyer of consumer goods to a more balanced partnership that can help bring down a 10.2 percent jobless rate. To do so, he’ll have to convince China’s President Hu Jintao and other leaders that tariffs on Chinese tires and steel don’t portend the future.

“The challenge Obama is facing is that the influence of the U.S. is rapidly waning and that he has little credibility” on trade issues, said Marc Faber, who manages about $300 million in Asian shares at Hong Kong-based Marc Faber Ltd. “Obama talked about free trade, but recently the U.S. slapped tariffs on Chinese-made tire imports.”

Obama needs to show the same commitment to free trade as his predecessor, George W. Bush, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said during a Nov. 13 panel discussion in Singapore. Mexican President Felipe Calderon suggested the U.S. has become more protectionist and less engaged internationally since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
At some point, the Obama administration is going to realize something that I and others have been whining aboutsaying for months now: many foreign leaders - especially those in Asia - value the United States' economic engagement far more than its diplomatic or military endeavors. Bush, for his myriad faults, was a free trader, and for that alone he was tolerated, if not widely revered, by leaders that care less about America's international popularity and more about the health and stability of their economies.

If Obama's trade (non)policy continues to threaten this stability, I think you'll see more and more these folks yearning for those pre-HopenChange days of W and his "Cowboy" approach to foreign policy.

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