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.
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.
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