Handshake Diplomacy

Obama Shakes The Hand Of Hugo Chavez.
Obama Shakes The Hand Of Hugo Chavez.
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer
President Nixon and Chairman Mao
President Nixon and Chairman Mao

The Summit Of The Americas

President Barack Obama attended the Summit of the Americas last week. The Summits of the Americas are a series of summit meetings between the leaders of countries in North America, Central America and South America. The purpose of the meetings is to provide an opportunity between the countries about a variety of issues and topics including economics and security.

At this year's summit, Barack Obama was approached by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and shook his hand. [wait for gasp] Chavez was said to have told Obama: "I shook hands with (former US president George W.) Bush with this hand eight years ago. I want to be your friend." Now, Republicans are blasting Obama for the "reckless" move.

Republican Senator John Ensign said, "I think it was irresponsible for the President to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez." Ensign went on to say, "When you're talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you're seen joking around with."

Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker and potential Republican Presidential Candidate in 2012, called Obama's greeting with Chavez sends a poor message to enemies of America.

Why? Was President Obama supposed to walk away when a world leader reaches out his hand? What is the answer Republicans? Most likely, this is another example of the Republican agenda these days, howl at the moon and provide no answers to any problems currently facing the nation.

Was This Really Better?
Was This Really Better?
Diplomacy Brings Results
Diplomacy Brings Results

For Those Who Forgot: This Is What Diplomacy Looks Like

Yes, Hugo Chavez is a dictator who has railed against America for years. Yes, Hugo Chavez supports Cuba and Iran and other countries that hate America. But was George Bush's policy of ignoring these countries and showing no respect for their leaders really better? Or did it alienate those countries and push them together?

The Obama handshake is so controversial because Americans have forgotten what diplomacy looks like. After eight years of the cowboy diplomacy of George Bush, and in a post 9-11 world, Americans have the idea that diplomacy is nothing more than America going at it alone and ignoring anyone who happens to have a difference of opinion. This is why Americans railed against the French and the Russians.

Now we have a President that believes that talking with foreign leaders, even those who disagree with us, is not only appropriate, but necessary. The President did not give anything to Hugo Chavez. He did not give in on any policy.

He simply shook the man's hand and accepted a small gift. This picuture was sent around the world and states that America is willing to deal again as long as you are ready to bring something to the table.

DId President Obama Do The Right Thing Shaking Hugo Chavez's Hand?

  • Yes
  • No
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Comments 13 comments

tony0724 profile image

tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

Bgpappa on this point I agree with you . I cannot stand Chavez , however our world standing has been In the trashcan for awhile and maybe this will start setting the example of who we stll are . Howvever he really flubbed on bowing to the sheik . Hes the President he should bow to no one .


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

He just shook his hand, for God's sake! or, was there a cheque folded up inside the hand?


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Tony, not familar with the Sheik thing, will educate myself. If he would have snubbed Chavez, wouldn't have that been a different symbol and not one good for the nation as a whole. Cindy, no check, I don't think he even payed for the book.

Thanks to you both for your comments.


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

My point being a simple handshake Is merely good manners , I do not know when It became scandal . Ridiculous !


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Totally agree Tony.

I think it is just politics. I am sure if he had ignored him, the Republicans would have been ranting how Obama is an elitist who is harming the Country's reputation.

What is really amazing and nice to see is we have a leader other people actually want to shake hands with.


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

And another point being that our reputation around the globe sucks , and I do believe that Obama trying to engage rivals In a positive back and forth Is not a bad thing . My only thing Is I hope this new administration not go global begging for redemption .


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Agreed, there is the legitimate worry that he will go too far. But I think he is smarter than that.


Amy G 7 years ago

bgpappa~ I agree that the handshake was no big deal. Here's what I think the problem is with: Chavez presented Obama with an Anti-American book. It slams what we are made of. Obama accepted with a smile, and looked pretty happy about it.

Shake his hand. Take the book. Don't smile like a moron and pump his hand up and down while the entire Southern Hemisphere laughs about how Hugo Chavez gifted the President of The United States with a book about how much Americans suck. And he took it, smiling, shaking, bobbing his head up and down, appearing as if he had absolutely no clue that the joke was on him.

That being said, when you add together all of the flubbs he's performed in his first 100 days, primarily with foreign relations issues, it really does make some of us cringe in anticipation of which foreign leader will lead the next international America joke. Unfortunately, I don't think he's smarter than that. Just my 2cents.

Thanks for the read!


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

I appreciate your comments.

I am not sure what "flubs" you are referring to. The Book was "Open Veins of Latin America," a 1971 book by Eduardo Galeano chronicling U.S. and European imperialism in the region. Not exactly the most anti-american book ever written.

But honestly, I would rather have protocol flubs than really big flubs like the last administration.

But as always, your two cents are worth much more.


marinealways24 profile image

marinealways24 7 years ago

Excellent article and excellent point. Humbleness dominates Arrogance.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Thanks for the comments.

I am not sure it is humbleness, though it may be. I think it is more common respect. You don't have to agree or even like everyone, but Hugo Chavez is the President of a nation. At the very least shake the mans hand to show that you respect the nation, even if not the man.


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

Did franklin Roosevelt shake Hitlers hand? If it was before the war than he should have. He did shake Stalins hand but that was just diplomacy.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Exactly, it was diplomacy. I don't know if FDR did, but if before the war then so be it. Chavez is not Hitler. I don't agree with Chavez, but I respect the people of his Country. I think a handshake as a symbol of respect for the Country is important.

Thanks for reading.

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