Skip to comments.To Moscow, L'Aquila and even onto Accra
Posted on 07/12/2009 12:56:42 AM PDT by Schnucki
Nobody watching President Barack Obama talking to President Dmitry Medvedev to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and addressing a university audience could have failed to notice that Moscow was not a pre-Presidential election Berlin audience. The first was courteous, the second displayed no emotion and the third was cool. No chemistry there; added to which his visit was overshadowed by Michael Jackson's funeral.
The main achievement was a missile deal that favoured Moscow, which did not go down well with his political opponents at home and has yet to receive the Senate's fiat. But there was also agreement reached to allow a set number of American troop carriers to fly over Russia's airspace to Afghanistan.
On the matter of non-proliferation there did not seem to be anything solid to indicate that the two countries will walk hand in hand in their approach to Iran and North Korea and in how they hope to prevent either from arriving at their nuclear ambitions. And on the business of a missile shield in Poland, critics say it is a matter of time before Mr Obama will give up on this.
The US President made a point of endorsing Georgia's and the Ukraine's sovereignty and, therefore, their right to form whatever alliance these countries wished to have with the West. He did not touch on the UDI proclaimed by both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which was swiftly recognised by Russia, a sign, some say with relish, that Mr Obama recognises spheres of influence even as he formally dismissed this 19th and 20th century concept as archaic in the 21st.
L'Aquila, to which shattered town Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi transferred the G8 summit from Sardinia, was a different kettle of fish. Mr Obama was among friends again and his back-slapping bonhomie (demonstrably absent in Moscow) returned. Here, as is increasingly the case with G8 summits, words were in abundance, action predictable and expectations generally unfulfilled.
There was a tentative form of words for tackling global warming that will not be actuated. The absence from the summit of the Chinese leader, who had to fly back home to take charge of serious ruptures in the country's westernmost province, and India's resolute stand against the rich countries' imposition of a solution that favoured them rather than the developing countries, saw to that.
On poverty in the developing world, the stark truth is that the G8 countries have failed properly to deal with it; no final communiqué will gloss over this monstrous lacuna. Billions of dollars have been promised but billions have been constantly promised. This ineffectualness raises the probability that the G8 will slowly fade away, its place taken by a more representative membership of the world's developed and developing countries.
From Rome, President Obama flew to Ghana to a tumultuous reception. In anticipation, the BBC reporter in Ghana was conducting a session with schoolchildren, beamed throughout the world, about Mr Obama and his greatness. In Africa, the President will wish to establish his credentials for the leadership of the vast continent's cause and promise that the end of poverty is nigh. He will make this a priority of his Presidency. Problem is that Mr Obama has too many priorities to which he must attend, from North Korea to Iran, Iraq to Afghanistan, never mind a world still reeling under a recession, albeit this is said to be lifting, and a healthcare problem in his country that he has raised to priority level.
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