I’m not really surprised by some of the aggressive behavior. Every few years or so the Chinese government behaves aggressively to test the political waters. (Pardon the pun.) These incursions often occur when the Chinese government views the U.S. and it’s allies as weak or distracted by other issues. And right now much of the world views the new administration as indifferent, at best, or weak, at worst. These views have arisen because of recent actions in the administration.
First, there is the perception that the Obama administration will acquiesce to the Russian government over the missile shield in exchange for assistance in dealing with Iran. In effect, the attitude is viewed by many as the U.S. abandoning its young Eastern European allies and potentially abandoning Europe as a whole to the predations of a growing dictatorial and aggressive regime in Moscow. Russian occupied Georgia has all but disappeared from the Administration’s concern and likely the military facility in Kyrgyzstan will be lost as the Kyrgyz government maneuvers to see who will give it more money, the Russians of the U.S.
Add to this the most ridiculous translation faux pas by the administration to date with the whole “Reset Button Incident” involving Lavrov (e.g. peregruzka vs perezagruzka). Well, okay, the most ridiculous translation was the whole misquoted Krushchev “We will bury you” garbage that crippled relations for years if not decades. That screams incompetence on the part of the translators and the State Department. Heck hire me as a translator. At least I’ll make sure to get the right word or at least ask a Russian if I don’t know it before hand.
Unfortunately most of Russia’s current leadership grew up under the influence of the hardline Communists of the Soviet era and equally unfortunate is that they really only respond to strength and power, not negotiation or dialog unless it is from a position of strength whether it is actual or perceived. That was why President Reagan was so effective when dealing with the Russians, he projected confidence, belief, and strength in America and American ideals. As of yet, President Obama has failed to show these same qualities to the world.
Second, the administrations recent comments on talking to the Taliban in order to find a solution in Afghanistan. The problem is that any moderates that existed in the Taliban were eliminated in the ninety-nineties when the Taliban took an extremist jihadist view of the Islam and began oppressing Afghans over the most trivial of things, threatening and killing non-Muslims, and destroying world treasures in the name of their religion. To imply cooperating with the Taliban is to imply abandoning the Afghan people once more to decades of oppression and brutality and civil war. Additionally, the Obama administration continually undercuts operations there by making claims that the Taliban is winning thus making them less willing to even consider negotiation. Yes, the Karzai government is weak and corrupt, but do you really want to negotiate with a bunch of murderers, terrorists, and cut throats that think nothing of butchering their own people or anyone who disagrees with them?
Thirdly comes North Korea. The DPRK has been an on going trouble spot for decades and every five years or so the DPRK rattles it’s saber to see how the world reacts, not unlike their Chinese backers in Beijing. This time though North Korea has added a new dangerous element: threatening to shoot down civilian airliners.
Adding to this dismay is the recent snub of British PM Gordon Brown. Whether Mr. Obama views protocol, pomp and circumstance as unneeded and wasteful or not the rest of the world values these things as part of culture and tradition. While the lack in protocol can be dismissed due to youth and inexperience, the thoughtlessness of the gifts given to Mr. Brown show a complete lack of graciousness to one of America’s oldest allies both culturally and politically.
And then of course the inane comment from Mrs. Clinton that American democracy was older than the E.U.’s democratic nations.