Sunday, November 8, 2009

Obama skips Berlin, but opens hand to the junta of Myanmar

World leaders will gather in Berlin Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Via Reuters:

Pivotal figures from the era that ushered in the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, such as ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa, who led anti-communist protests in Poland at the head of the Solidarity trade union, will take part in commemorative events around the once-divided capital on Monday.

Joining them will be the leaders of the nations which occupied postwar Germany, apart from the United States, which will be represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are all due to attend the celebrations hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, amid a series of bilateral meetings.
The President's very conspicuous absense represents just another slight to our allies from the Obama administration.  Fox news reports:
President Obama squeezed in a trip to Copenhagen last month to lobby, unsuccessfully, for Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. He plans to travel to Oslo next month to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, an award that even Obama has said he does not deserve. And this coming week, he sets out on a weeklong tour of Asia.

But the president does not plan to travel to Germany to attend the 20th anniversary celebration Monday of the fall of the Berlin Wall, drawing heated criticism from those who say he's ignoring a shining triumph of American-inspired democracy.

"A tragedy," is how former House Speaker Newt Gingrich described Obama's absence.

Some question whether the decision not to go was a nod to Russia, with which the Obama administration is trying to mend relations, or just another attempt to play down the perception of the United States as an exceptional superpower.

For its part, the administration is citing a scheduling conflict. The White House says the president simply does not have the time to go, with the trip to Asia starting Wednesday.

"Obviously we have a lot to work on here and we have commitments for an upcoming Asia trip," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday, noting that a "very senior delegation" of U.S. officials would attend.
During this "upcoming Asia trip", the President of the United States will meet with the prime minister of the repressive military-ruled country of Myanmar.  The last president to meet with a head of state of Myanmar (then Burma) was Lyndon Johnson.

This country is ruled by military generals who refused to accept aid from the United States, even as tens of thousands died and millions were starving after the country was decimated by a monstrous cyclone in 2008.  What is there to negotiate or talk about?

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