Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 01:10 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 01:10 | SYDNEY

Obama very bad week in Asia


Malcolm Cook

17 September 2009 11:49

Last week was a bad one for the Obama Administration's Asia policy. Three decisions in particular seem hard to square with Administration rhetoric and the values America claims to uphold.

Last Friday, the Obama Administration agreed to consider bilateral talks with Pyongyang before the next round (if there is a next round) of Six-Party Talks. It seems North Korea may achieve its long-standing goal of dealing directly with the US and sidelining South Korea and Japan not by becoming more open to giving up its nuclear arsenal but by becoming more belligerent about it.

Pyongyang has won another propaganda victory and one that follows closely after the visit to North Korea by former president Bill Clinton. There is no evidence that Pyongyang has made any commitments on denuclearisation in return for these two victories.

On the same day (actually, late in the evening), President Obama, host of next week's G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, cast doubt on hopes that he will be a quiet but firm supporter of free trade when he slapped tariffs on China's tyre imports upon the request of a trade union. Nicholas Lardy from the Peterson Institute provides more insights into this decision, one that seems to go against the trade commitments the president signed up to at the last G20 get-together.

Two days later, an Obama Administration team arrived in Dharamsala to deliver the news that the president, reversing long-standing presidential practice, would not schedule a meeting with the Dalai Lama when the he visits the US next month. Then-Senator Obama also missed out on meeting the Dalai Lama last year but did send a letter. Coincidentally, Prime Minister Rudd’s travel schedule also precluded him meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

Photo by Flickr user Lacey_and_Cielle, used under a Creative Commons license.