Lame Duck Obama Struts his Stuff at G20 Summit
With just a few months left in office, Obama seems to think he can make agreements left and right and leave his predecessor to sort out the consequences.
See the glare on Putin’s face in the picture at left? Many world leaders shared Putin’s disdain for President Obama after his blustering antics at the G20 Summit held in Hangzhou, China September 4th-5th.
“At the G20 he [Obama] jumped deep into the pit of strategic overextension, committing the United States to ongoing dangerous confrontations with the other greatest global powers – Russia and China,” reports UPI. “He took empty, reckless public postures, picking fights…when the United States is seriously committed in the fight against the Islamic State and to preserving the unity of Iraq. It is also walking a tightrope between its old Turkish and new Kurdish allies.”
President Obama insisted that US air and maritime forces would remain near Beijing to enforce freedom of navigation through the South China Sea. He attempted to talk tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of numerous administration-supported accusations against the Russians for attempting to influence the upcoming US election through cyberattacks on Democratic organizations.
Instead of focusing on the growing threats in the Middle East, compounded by the catastrophic JCPOA last year, President Obama puffed himself up like a peacock and tried to look macho.
“Playing such games, however, is only going to distract him further from confronting Iran or taking any serious sustained attitude towards regional extremist and solving the Syrian civil war,” notes UPI.
G20 (Group of Twenty) is an international forum founded in 1999 with the purpose of discussing high-level policy issues pertaining to global financial stability. The summit served a purpose during the crisis of 2008-09, when major economies were forced to work together to reassure global markets, but has since lost significance.
G20 is supposed to include the world’s 20 largest economies, but this is not true. More than 30 nations and organizations sent their leaders to China this month to attend the summit. Member nation Argentina is too far down the list, and the European Union counts as a single member.
This year’s G20 communiqué was a grueling 14 pages long, but managed to announce only that it favored the good and opposed the bad. It left out major global concerns including Syria, Ukraine, the South China Sea island conflict, and Western sanctions on Russia.
“We are determined to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural – individually and collectively to achieve our goal of strong, sustainable, balance, and inclusive growth,” reads the vague document.
The communiqué also fails to mention the two largest US-sponsored trade agreements currently underway: the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.
The major problem with G20 seems to be a lack of common values. Considering the fact that four of its members operate authoritarian governments, I see no solution to this problem.
Not wanting to portray Obama in a negative light, and without much else to cover, the media focused on the summit’s bilateral meetings. President Obama held three such meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin was surprisingly friendly, conducting one-on-one meetings with South Korean President Park Guen-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Russia on September 3rd.
In addition to Obama, Putin held bilateral meetings in Hangzhou with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Xi, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, May, and Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
North Korean President Kim Jong Un, whose recent behavior was a topic of discussion, flipped a metaphorical middle finger at the conference by launching three mid-range ballistic missiles in the Sea of Japan.