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“Everyone Wants Respect, But Hardly Anyone Is Willing to Pay for It”

In an article titled “Obama’s Nice Guy Act Gets Him Nowhere on the World Stage,” Der Spiegel sums up President Obama’s Asian trip as a complete failure:

Barack Obama looked tired on Thursday, as he stood in the Blue House in Seoul, the official residence of the South Korean president. He also seemed irritable and even slightly forlorn. The CNN cameras had already been set up. But then Obama decided not to play along, and not to answer the question he had already been asked several times on his trip: what did he plan to take home with him? Instead, he simply said “thank you, guys,” and disappeared. …
The mood in Obama’s foreign policy team is tense following an extended Asia trip that produced no palpable results. The “first Pacific president,” as Obama called himself, came as a friend and returned as a stranger. The Asians smiled but made no concessions.
Upon taking office, Obama said that he wanted to listen to the world, promising respect instead of arrogance. But Obama’s currency isn’t as strong as he had believed. Everyone wants respect, but hardly anyone is willing to pay for it. Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik.

President Obama took office wanting to distinguish himself from President Bush. That was foolish and arrogant. Now, as Der Spiegel concludes, he is trying desperately to distinguish himself from Jimmy Carter.

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