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More Humility From Obama

The Obama world re-engagement tour heads south of the border today. In four days of meetings, first in Mexico City and then in Trinidad and Tobago, President Obama is picking up where he left off in Europe, reaching out to his fellow leaders and offering to work with them -- as equals.

"Times have changed," Obama told CNN en Español. Referring to his planned meeting with the Brazilian leader, for instance, he said: "My relationship with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is one of two leaders who both have big countries, that we are trying to solve problems and create opportunities for our people, and we should be partners. There's no senior partner or junior partner."

As by far the most commanding presence on the international stage, Obama can easily afford a little humility. This is especially the case in Latin America. No one will mistake the U.S. role there as anything less than dominant. Obama will be both star and alpha dog everywhere he goes.

Indeed, what the region's leaders most seem to crave is a little attention.

Plus, the whole "I'm not Bush" thing will work well in Latin America, where Obama's predecessor was widely despised for both his attitude and his policies. Not to mention the fact that Obama isn't exactly who Central Casting would send to play the part of "Yanqui Imperialist."

Peter Nicholas writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Obama is a popular figure in the region and can expect an enthusiastic welcome in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. But he also will confront deep resentments over U.S. policies that he is reluctant to change. Other leaders want the administration to normalize relations with Cuba and resurrect a ban on the kinds of assault weapons being smuggled into Mexico, commitments Obama is unwilling to make.

"Still, Obama is bound to get a better reception than George W. Bush, the least popular American president ever among Latin American countries, polls showed....

"'The new president is going to be the focus,' said Julia Sweig, director of the Latin America program at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank. 'Even for someone like [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez, who at the last summit made himself the focus, it will be virtually impossible to upstage Barack Obama. This is his coming out party, his cotillion in the Americas, and there's an excitement just to meet the guy, see him up close and get a feel for him.'"

Ben Feller writes for the Associated Press: "Obama's priority list for the trip that begins Thursday is stacked with matters of concern across the Western Hemisphere — the crippling recession, the warming of the planet, the trafficking in drugs, the gloom of poverty. Crime, despair and political unrest south of the border can all undermine U.S. interests.

"But when Obama ventures south starting Thursday, improving relations with the rest of the Americas is his main mission, not just a means to achieve other goals. He is out to assuage peers from Central America, South America and the Caribbean who, rightly or not, felt ignored during the Iraq-dominated Bush years."

David Luhnow and Laura Meckler write in the Wall Street Journal: "Most analysts expect the trip to be more successful than the last regional summit four years ago in Argentina, where protests against then-President Bush, challenges by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and bickering over a U.S. drive to create a hemisphere wide free-trade zone ended in acrimony. Mr. Obama's popularity in Latin America compared to his predecessor has complicated matters for Mr. Chavez, who regularly made the former president his foil, but hasn't figured out what to do yet about Mr. Obama, analysts say."

Here's what Obama wrote in an op-ed today that appeared in several Florida and Latin American newspapers: "Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My administration is committed to renewing and sustaining a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security."

CNN notes that Obama "refused to criticize the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, who have taken measures to change their constitutions to extend their holds on power.

"'I think it's important for the United States not to tell other countries how to structure their democratic practices and what should be contained in their constitutions,' he said. 'It's up to the people of those countries to make a decision about how they want to structure their affairs.'

"Asked how he plans to interact with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce U.S. critic who once described then-President George Bush as the 'devil,' Obama offered no criticism. 'Look, he's the leader of his country and he'll be one of many people that I will have an opportunity to meet,' the U.S. president said.

"Though he said he believes the United States has a leadership role to play in the region, Obama qualified that role this way: 'We also recognize that other countries have important contributions and insights,' he said."

The trip starts today in Mexico. Tracy Wilkinson writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Like much of the rest of Latin America, the Mexico that receives a visit from Obama today yearns for the kind of new partnership that the president espouses. U.S.-Latin American relations are at their lowest point in years and Obama's pledge to 're-order' the agenda is welcome.

"But beyond spoken commitments, Mexico is looking for concrete assistance in several areas. Powerful drug-trafficking organizations have unleashed a wave of violence that has claimed more than 10,000 lives in just over two years and could threaten the very ability of President Felipe Calderon to govern. Calderon has repeatedly called on Washington to do more to stop the flow of weapons and drug money from the U.S. and to curb the demand for the tons of cocaine and marijuana that Mexican traffickers send northward."

Meanwhile, Spencer S. Hsu writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama yesterday ratcheted up efforts to curb the flow of drugs and guns across the southern border, imposing financial sanctions against three of the most violent Mexican drug cartels and threatening to prosecute Americans who do business with them....

"By targeting the cartels -- Sinaloa, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana -- the administration expanded its support for Calderón's crackdown on the narco-traffickers, an effort that has provoked a violent backlash and led to thousands of deaths in the past two years."

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column that "the president is moving American foreign policy in a new direction, and conservatives dislike what is becoming the Obama Doctrine.

"Obama's doctrine departs from the previous administration's approach by embracing a longer tradition of American foreign policy. Obama insists that the United States can't achieve great objectives on its own, even though it is 'always harder to forge true partnerships and sturdy alliances than to act alone,'
as he put it this month in Strasbourg, France....

"The Obama Doctrine is a form of realism unafraid to deploy American power but mindful that its use must be tempered by practical limits and a dose of self-awareness. Those are the limits that defenders of the recent past have trouble accepting."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 16, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
 
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Comments

I wonder how many of the newly minted left wing dictator wannabes in Latin America will come to see Obama's "compassion" and "humility" as just another code word for "big pussy"?

After all, that’s Sarkozy's impression of our Dear Leader.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Those "dictators" were actually elected by their people, but we wouldn't expect dead enders like yourself to actually respect the idea that some people might prefer a political system different than our own.

For a military man you sure show a complete lack of respect of your commander in chief. Isn't that insubordination? That's ok I've long ago given up the idea that military men actually have honor other than in their own minds.

Posted by: troyd2009 | April 16, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Good luck getting an Article 91 on me (or the dozens of people around me) pal.

Just because we neither like nor respect our "Beloved Dear Leader" doesn’t mean we wont go to the ends of the earth and die if he tells us to.

Duty and honor are concepts you clearly don’t grasp.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Might as well have Hugh Hefner write about chastity. Nobody has more pride in his own assumptions and opinions.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 16, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Might as well have Hugh Hefner write about chastity. Nobody has more pride in his own assumptions and opinions.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 16, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Well, sharpshooter, you clearly didn't read the piece very carefully because Chavez (Not a dictator, BTW, as he was legitimately elected several times) isn't really sure what to make of the guy. Bush (Properly called "Dear Leader" as his followers took a worshipful and completely uncritical attitude towards him. We lefties are far more critical of Obama) was an open book. He very clearly took a contemptuous attitude towards much of the world outside his own social circle of oil barons and Texas billionaires and didn't have much use for anyone whose skin was a shade or two darker than his own.
Y'see, when people take a respectful attitude towards others, that confuses the bad people and throws them off their guard. Our press corps was clearly very confused at Obama's refusal to issue insulting nicknames to everyone.

Posted by: rlg3526 | April 16, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

It's a shame that so few of the extremist America-hating cabal turned out nationwide for tea bagging.

Heck, more people watched a Hockey game in Florida than turned out nationwide.

I saw more people protesting tax cuts the day before here in Seattle than turned out for these protests in Seattle.

It's like they don't get that God has told them to wander in the wilderness for forty years for their sins ...

Posted by: WillSeattle | April 16, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Funny how a simple exercise of reason and common sense elicits such complaints from warmongers. Pledging to work with other sovereign states (as they are), toward mutual goals (as we certainly have), is equivalent to what, surrender? You'd prefer what, "We're gonna kick your ass!"

That's what we just had for eight years. Didn't go so well, if you weren't paying attention. Not only is neither war close to won, but the overworked veterans are suffering pretty terribly from PTSD. Oh, and we've got this deficit, partly due to Bush hiding the costs of the war in emergency expenditures, rather than actually budgeting for them. And between torture and invading Iraq, it seems we've created a whole new generation of terrorists.

Nobody's pretending, including Obama, that all of our foreign policy disputes can be handled by negotiation. But after eight years of blind warmaking, it's a good way to at least begin. Besides, actively pursuing regime change all over the world is a costly policy that might possibly involve diminishing returns. Perhaps we've already seen some in Iraq.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 16, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Those on the right weren't critical of Bush? Look at his poll ratings from those on the right. And those on the left are "far more" critical of Obama? What a joke. Take, for example, the lefties who visit the WaPo comment boards. They act like a bunch of middle school boys with a crush on their babe-alicious teacher, who likes to wear tight-fitting tops and skirts. It almost makes you want to say: Take a cold shower.

Posted by: dakotadoug83 | April 16, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The guy's a total gem.

If he weren't the President.

I'd adopt him.

Posted by: svreader | April 16, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The guy's a total gem.

If he wasn't the President.

I'd adopt him.


Posted by: svreader | April 16, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Why do the neocons pine for the good old days of pointless antagonization of other countries? What exactly did the U.S. gain from Bush's endless taunting of Chavez? For that matter, how much assistance in Iraq did we win through our insulting bluster towards most of Europe?

Diplomacy is difficult because it has a chance of being productive. Any schmuck can take a hard line with opponents because it's easy to do, and it also precludes making any progress whatsoever. But of course the modern day conservative's ego drives him to equate compromise with weakness, and the entire country suffers a little more as a result.

Improve America - Ignore Republicans

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 16, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Those on the right weren't critical of Bush? Look at his poll ratings from those on the right."

Are you kidding? Bush's approval ratings among his GOP base were stratospheric compared to the rest (read intelligent part) of the population. Here's what Gallup said about it in Jan. 2009: "Toward the end of his presidency, the bulk of Bush's limited public support came from Republicans, in particular conservative Republicans."

Talk about re-writing history!

Posted by: steveh46 | April 16, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@dakotadoug83: look up the phrase "anecdotal evidence" and investigate the myriad ways in which your post could easily have been written by a chimp.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 16, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate and perhaps misguided that too many of us expect and demand that everyone be like us. I recall back in the '60's when Sukarno responded to a western newsman with: "At this time my people are not ready for your form of democracy. They must first learn how to use the freedoms and responsibilities that come with democracy."

Most importantly we must allow other determine what and whom is best for their country.

I don't remember the complete saying about: "..those convinced against their will remain unconvinced still." Or something like that.

We cannot come into a man's home and criticize all of his culture and beliefs while replacing them with ours and expect him to welcome these insults gladly and constructively.. "Who da hell are you white man?"

Posted by: tedwordlaw | April 16, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

We all live in the world together and President Obama wants to bring people together is something I'm proud to see as an American. President Obama knows that you can get so much further when you work together than when you bully and imply to others that you are superior or your ideas are the only ones that matter

Posted by: rlj1 | April 16, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

froomkin delivers another big, wet, sloppy kiss right on hussein's A.

You can just feel the loony-left liberal love.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | April 16, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin is moderating comments? I think I hit a nerve.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many of the newly minted left wing dictator wannabes in Latin America will come to see Obama's "compassion" and "humility" as just another code word for "big pussy"?

After all, that’s Sarkozy's impression of our Dear Leader.

----------

NO, that was Bush and Cheney, maybe you're
confused.

But you know, the US mission isn't supposed to be some simplistic symbol broken down into preschool poetry, so easy even the right wing plumber types like Eliot Abrams can understand.

Right?

Otherwise, we'd lose everything, and never understand why.

ROTFLMAO

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

froomkin delivers another big, wet, sloppy kiss right on hussein's A.

You can just feel the loony-left liberal love.

Posted by: LoonyLeft

Dear Loony (sic);

Froomkin spent most of the last week criticizing Obama and his administration. But in your world, facts are nothing, ideology is all.

Be thankful Obama and the left are here to haul your chestnuts out of the fire Bush started.

Posted by: j2hess | April 16, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

NO, that was Bush and Cheney, maybe you're
confused.

-----------

I though you losers were part of the "reality based community"

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/16/1894686.aspx

Chalk it up to news you wont find when reading Froomkin.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Be thankful Obama and the left are here to haul your chestnuts out of the fire Bush started.

--------

One thing to haul the US out, another to haul Loony's chestnuts out...

Maybe not this time, you know?

I have to wonder, given our current sociopolitical situation, how much is due to the execrable policies of those who gave birth, for lack of a better word, to Rush Limbaugh, a hate speech, hate merchant, dumbkopf if I ever saw one.

So, you know, he and his kind are so smart, let them fight for themselves.

Now, to listen to my new Peter Gabriel download, "Buck the Monkey..." or, maybe it was my old Peter Gabriel download "Shock the Monkey," I forget...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 16, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The ACLU just posted PDFs of the Bush torture memos
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html
Checked out the first one. Looks reasonably complete, not many blacked-out sections at all.
Okay, okay, we lefties WON'T refer to our president as Barack "W." Obama.

Posted by: rlg3526 | April 16, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Here’s a prediction, Obama will beclown himself and demean this great nation on the international stage, once again and the left wing crackpots autocrats in Latin America will still talk as much smack about the USA as they ever had.

Our Dear Leader will succeed at not only making us look weak, but he will won’t accomplish a single thing. Just like on his European tour.

Something tells me that the UN Small Arms treaty will get some traction this week though.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The ACLU just posted PDFs of the Bush torture memos
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html
Checked out the first one. Looks reasonably complete, not many blacked-out sections at all.
Okay, okay, we lefties WON'T refer to our president as Barack "W." Obama.

-----------

The ACLU did, and is doing, a great job here, aren't they?

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 16, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

At first, I was annoyed by Obama's comments about Chavez, particularly his use of the word "opportunity," as if he was meeting some bureaucratic gear instead of the acerbic president of Venezuela. However, it's probably the best thing he could've done. Chavez is looking for attention and ways incite national anger. He wants American leadership to throw a fit about him so he can do the same about us with a clean conscious. Obama's subtle dismissal of him, treating Chavez as another tickpoint on his agenda instead of demonizing the man, pops Chavez's balloons significantly.

Posted by: Airbuilder7 | April 16, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

obama is using these so called acts of humility so that he can use these opportunities to further change America...
why can't the obamamorons see what this guy is doing, are they that stupid?

Posted by: DwightCollins | April 16, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Duty and honor are concepts you clearly don’t grasp.
Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist"
******************************************
It is your duty to Honor your CIC.]

How did you miss this concept?

Posted by: ORNOT | April 16, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

obama is using these so called acts of humility so that he can use these opportunities to further change America...
why can't the obamamorons see what this guy is doing, are they that stupid?

Posted by: DwightCollins
******************************************
Rather redundant question isn't it?

Matter of fact your post makes not one wit of sense. You start off, calling them, so called acts of humility as a premise. Then you conclude that these so called acts will have the effect of some kind of major change. and how come a moron is to stupid to see that?

Now you don't say what that change would be but you condemm it as moronic.

Well Dwight even a genius can't put your logic into a perspective other then moronic.

D.S.Dupius

Posted by: ORNOT | April 16, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Sharpshooter, I feel so sad for you. You're obviously an extremely angry person who's just full to bursting with hate.
I must say though, I was very amused by the idea that our current President will accomplish nothing. Yeah, like Bush did more than to simply waste eight years?

Posted by: rlg3526 | April 16, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

It is not humility that is emanating from Obama. It is more like an awareness not to display too much arrogance. If Obama had an ounce of humility he wouldn't be in the White House.

Regarding Sarkozy's impression - Sarkozy is just like the Queen in Snow White. Everyday he says: mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all, and the mirror replies: Obama.

Posted by: alance | April 16, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Strikes me funny that Bush is equated with strength after Putin crapped in his cereal for eight years.

Posted by: horace_simon1 | April 16, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

"Acts of humility" eh? I think someone should remind Bambi Golda Meirs smack down of a visiting head of state "Don't be so humble. You're not that great."

When the president of France shows you the back of his pimp hand in public, you know you are in trouble.

Posted by: luca_20009 | April 17, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

@SharpshootingPugilist: "Duty and honor are concepts you clearly don’t grasp."

After gratuitously slandering the attractiveness of the first lady a few weeks ago, I'd say duty and honor are concepts for which you are sorely lacking in qualification.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 17, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

To Washington Post: Under your "Post a Comment" u instruct users to NOT "include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments". The WP states it will remove material from this site which does not comply with it's request on "profanity" & "personal attacks". I have seen nothing BUT an exchange of personal attacking & profanity here today in re to "More Humility from Obama". Somebody is sleeping real soundly on the job here; or you have a very different concept of profanity & personal attacking than I.
It is just pathetic reading this exchange of one-upmanship. Even those who at least used "appropriate language"; still tried to provoke the 'other side'. You don't need to always use cuss words to verbally abuse somebody's charactor. But most of these comments are loaded w/colorful language. I find it rather scary to see our country so divided. I am sure America's enemies love it, without any regard for which political party seems to be winning. Divide and Conquer. It seems we have forgotten the power of that phrase.

Posted by: frosty7530 | April 17, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

This is a sorry attempt to make the liberal something he is not. Democrats are the hate mongers of slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and all other prejudices of this country history. Having incompotent people sprew, their lack of knowledge does not change history it only shows their ignorance. It matters not if they are a political official, religious leader, gay coalition member, sexual deviant, or an abuser of prescription drugs, as if they commit or fund black genocide, infantcide, or abortion. No hatred should be financed by the United States, it should be considered the philosophy of man and not eligible for tax-exemptions or any kind of government assistance.

Posted by: phjesuswarrior7 | April 17, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

!'ve got a ten year old daughter and a heavy wife tending to a 47 year old father dying of lung cancer in L-44!
She's worried about more than now, the wife is.
The Daughter has lost her pink bycycle,, and has been brought into the Life/Death play before her time,,her name is JESSICA!
A hard road she's got to travel,,like eating stones and and not get hit!
Her Father is leaving,,and Da Kid is not!

Posted by: mudbone | April 17, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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