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Tag Archives: foreign affairs

China Greets Obama with Disrespect

A Chinese government-run newspaper – are there any other kind? – greeted President Obama, who is in the country for a three-day stay, with mocking disrespect.

From an “editorial” by the paper:

Obama always utters “Yes we can,” which led to the high expectations people have for him. But he has done an insipid job offering nearly nothing to his supporters. U.S. society has grown tired of his banality.

The White House brushes this off as propaganda, which it is, but it’s also a very clear signal from the Chinese government about how it will approach Obama.

Obama offered the world a message of love and peace. But the world, which does not share our outlook, only hands out love and peace when it fears and respects you. And, unfortunately, nobody overseas fears Obama, and few seem to respect him.

U.S.- Russia Reset Button Failure Led to Bushehr Reactor Fueling

Note to Readers: Reporting for this story was conducted over a period of six months by a team of three White House Dossier correspondents who met secretly with dozens of administration and other officials in Washington area parking garages and ate chicken sandwiches for lunch.

An exclusive White House Dossier investigation has determined that Russia’s surprise decision this week to begin fueling the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr occurred as a result of faulty wiring in the Reset Button pressed last year by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Clinton and Lavrov "reset" relations

The investigation has revealed that tens of millions of dollars spent on developing the Reset Button went to waste on unnecessary overhead charges – much of the work could and should have been done without a roof – lavish meetings in far-flung locales at which sushi was served, and inflated salaries of project management executives who spent most of their time playing poker.

Millions of dollars of taxpayer-appropriated funding are simply unaccounted for. Halliburton is somehow involved and did something wrong.

The result was a reset button completely stripped of its ability to remake U.S.-Russian relations.  “They might as well have been pressing a tomato,” said one senior State Department official.

The investigation points to the failure of engineers to properly route the device’s intricate electrical circuitry, resulting in a catastrophic failure.

“Normally, you attach the green wire to the green wire, the blue wire to the blue wire, and the yellow wire to the yellow wire,” said one technician who was closely involved with the project. “What we failed to understand was that in this case, you were supposed to attach the green wire to the blue wire, the blue wire to the yellow wire, and the yellow wire to the green wire,” he said. “It’s a complete fiasco.”

Internal diagram of the "Reset Button"

After realizing this spring that the reset button was not working, Russia immediately started misbehaving, determining to provide Iran with critical assistance on the path to developing nuclear weapons. Spent nuclear fuel rods from the reactor can be used can be used to make weapons-grade nuclear material,

Iran has agreed to give Russia the spent fuel rods, which a key safeguard in the agreement. But comments by one top Iranian official call into question this aspect of the deal.

“We plan to live up to the agreement,” said the official, who met with a White House Dossier reporter in Vienna. “But, you know, things get lost. That doesn’t make us bad people. Besides, the nuclear reactor is solely going to be use for making electric vehicles.”

Asked for comment yesterday, a senior White House official expressed concern about the nuclear reactor.

“While we applaud the Iranian leadership for its commitment to electric vehicles, we worry that the infrastructure for charging the vehicles has not yet been properly established in Iran,” he said.

The Iranian official assured White House Dossier that International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear inspectors currently allowed to visit the reactor will continue to have access.

“As long as all of their papers are in order, everything should be fine,” he said.

Kerry Comes to Bore Obama, Possibly to Death

There are certain senators who cause reporters to scatter the minute they come to the microphones because the scribes just know they’re in for a long winded treatise on anything said senator happens to think is vital for him to address at the moment.

One of these senators was Mr. Joe Biden of Delaware. Now these reporters have to stay put while he talks because HE SOMEHOW BECAME THE FREAKIN’ VICE PRESIDENT.

If the vice president makes news and you went to get a frappuccino, you’re in bad shape with your editor.

John Kerry and John McCain
Even McCain can't take it.

Another of these is one John Kerry of Massachusetts, who visits with Obama this morning. Americans themselves recognized this problem six years ago, deciding that as unhappy as they were becoming with Bush, they just couldn’t stand to listen to Kerry for four, or God forbid, eight years. Voters in 2000 also decided not to make another Official Senate Windbag, Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, their vice president, possibly for the same reason.

Kerry is at the White House this morning to meet with Obama and will almost certainly be bloviating at the mikes on the driveway right afterward. Last time he had a one on one with Obama, following an ultimately failed diplomatic mission to Afghanistan, Kerry stood on the driveway for what seemed like the length of an Italian opera and pontificated about what initially had appeared a grandly successful trip.

Obama and Kerry hug
Looks to me like this one started as a handshake and then they realized a hug was in order and so now they're doing both while aides look on in amazement.

It had something to do with convincing Karzai not to be such a schmuck, as I remember. Karzai later decided that he was born and would remain a schmuck, and Kerry’s mission became a failure.

Everyone knows that Kerry wants to be Secretary of State and can’t believe the callow Hillary got the job instead, so he was busy at the White House that day trumpeting his diplomatic chops for a severely bored press corps. He kept saying, “I have to go now,” and then kept going on. That kind of thing.

Now he’s threatening to screw up Obama’s Afghanistan policy because of the Wikileaks, so Obama needs to set him straight. When the docs first emerged, Kerry declared,

“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The someone, probably Rahm, got him on the phone, and read him the riot act from preamble to epilogue. So then Kerry came out with this contradictory statement.

I think it’s important not to over-hype or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents.

You know, right after Kerry himself had become excessively excited. So Obama probably wants to make sure the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman has his talking points right.

But perhaps Kerry, who tried to dock his yacht in Rhode Island to avoid Massachusetts taxes, will think twice about facing reporters, who will want to know just what the Hell he was thinking. But I don’t know, he really loves those microphones. It could be a tough morning for the White House press corps.

But Obama certain must listen to him. And if he dies of boredom, then Biden becomes president. And then it could be a tough morning for everyone.

A Look Inside an East Room Press Conference

President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron today held a short press conference in the East Room in which they proclaimed that they like each other, that Britain and the United States are good allies and even speak the same language, that it was wrong the release the Lockerbie bomber since he’s really not too sick, and blah blah blah blah blah.

What, you were looking for news from this little Anglo-U.S. PR stunt?

But it looked pretty cool. Here’s some photos from inside the East Room.

First, lets see what some of the august White House journalists are up to while they wait for Obama and Cameron to appear.

Below, NBC’s Chuck Todd is on air while behind him the official White House microphone test makes sure the mikes are hot.

Ed Henry of CNN gets set to go on while ABC’s Jake Tapper most likely is dispatching one of his endless series of tweets to the world. Apparently, New York has not demanded any prefatory comments from Tapper, but his Twitter fans – and they are legion – have.

C-SPAN’s Steve Scully works the room.

And now we’re underway. Obama listens as Cameron makes some kind of point.

The photogs eat it up.

Obama’s water glass awaits a presidential sip.

Obama takes a question, not terribly willingly, from a British journalist.

An exquisite East Room Chandelier illuminates the proceedings.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and what appears to be his British counterpart make sure everyone’s on message.

Obama makes his point with help from the presidential seal.

And now it’s over. Ed Henry launches into a standup while Fox’s Major Garrett takes a rare chance to photograph the Green Room.

The lovely and industrious Kendra Marr of POLITICO doesn’t wait to get back to her desk before tapping out a story. The equally lovely Steve Thomma of McClatchy looks on – and figures it can wait. Major is in the background still taking pictures.

As reporters exit the main section of the White House to return to their space in the West Wing, a view from the White House front door on the north side.

And now its back to our desks, where we’ll try to convince out editors that something important happened so that the afternoon isn’t a total waste.

NASA Stops Reaching Out to Muslims

The White House today did a 180 on the question of whether it is NASA’s job to reach out to the Muslim world, deciding after all that this should be left to, like, the State Department, and not to spacemen.

In an apparent reference to the invention of the flying carpet thousands of years ago in Persia, NASA Chief Charles Bolden late last month told Al Jazeera that President Obama’s “foremost” instruction to him was reaching out to Muslims and try to accrue some of their expert knowledge on space travel.

Perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering.

Here’s the original interview with Al Jazeera. The question pops up right at the beginning.

The White House initially defended the remark. In comments to Fox News July 6, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Obama “wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration.”

Why, this could even bring Israel and its ancient enemies together, suggested the hallucinating Shapiro. “Meeting that mandate requires NASA to partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries. The space race began as a global competition, but, today, it is a global collaboration,” he said.

This all makes so much sense.

The Iran/Hezbollah International Rocket Research Initiative of course is widely known, particularly in Israel, which is participating in the testing program by being on the receiving end of it.

Perhaps, Shapiro meant, NASA simply wants to learn from the program. If Bolden’s outreach is not allowed to continue, valuable information taken from atop Israelis’ heads – where the rockets are landing – would be lost.

Maybe even one day Hezbollah will point these rockets toward Mars instead of Israel, and put people on them, like Ahmadinejad.

Alas, today White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs walked it all back. It turns out old fashioned stuff like flying space ships is what NASA is supposed to do. From today’s briefing.

QUESTION: There were some comments that the NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, made a couple weeks back that drew some interest, specifically from conservatives who are wondering why he said that one of the charges that the president gave him when he got the job was that he had to focus on outreach to the Muslim world. Why is the NASA administrator doing that?

GIBBS: It’s an excellent question, and I don’t think – that was not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA.

QUESTION: So did he just misspeak? And has the president spoken to him about that to clear it up?


QUESTION: Anybody here at the White House?

GIBBS: I’m sure people – people at the White House here talk to NASA all the time.

Well, I’m sure they do. People like Mr. Gibbs get on the phone with people at NASA and say, “What the Hell is that jackass talking about? How many public relations crises am I supposed to deal with?”

There was no comment from Bolden, but he was privately heard to mutter, “I thought I was appointed to head the NASSER space program.”

The statements by Shapiro are no longer operative, it appears. And Islam’s secrets of space flight will remain with Islam.

Obama Meets Guy From the Dominican Republic

It’s one of those awful rituals that U.S. presidents must suffer, and it’s happening today. President Obama will meet with the leader of a tiny, poor nation – in this case, the Dominican Republic – and pretend we care deeply about its welfare and need its help in building a better world.

Why must Obama meet with the leader of a tiny, poor Island nation? Wait a second – it’s not even an tiny island nation, it only takes up half a tiny island. The other half belongs to the God-forsaken (long ago) country of Haiti.

leonel fernandez
Our cantaloupes and guavas are simply delicious

I mean, the Dominican Republic’s main exports to the United States are baseball players and miniature shampoo bottles stolen by Americans from its resorts. Okay, okay, there must be something else. Each of these Latin American and Caribbean nations have like one or two big exports that put them on our map. You know, Guatemala sends us bananas, Colombia sends us coffee and cocaine, Mexico sends us people, Cuba sends sugar and cigars, but not us, and so forth.

I have no idea what the Dominican Republic actually sends us. Probably it’s like cantaloupes and guavas. So Obama and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez are scheduled to spend a half hour of Obama’s valuable time talking about cantaloupes and guavas. And of course Fernandez will also complain that his country’s beaches are besotted with gunks of dry oil from the spill – and why doesn’t the U.S. send $100 million to clean it up? And also please send another $100 million for other miscellaneous problems that we can’t possibly solve ourselves, and so forth. And Obama will say, “Okay.”

Leonel, I could listen all day to you go on about cantaloupes

Remember, not only does Obama have to meet with this guy, he has to waste time prepping for the meeting so he can agree to the Dominican Republicans requests knowledgeably and not run out of things to talk about during the meeting.  (We use the term “Dominican Republican” to distinguish this man from the leader of the proud island nation of Dominca). Obama will  likely spend about twenty minutes before the meeting being briefed by some dude from the State Department who has made the Dominican Republic his life’s work for some reason, and now gets his moment of glory in the Oval Office. Then, Obama will have to take about ten minutes to practice keeping a straight face while saying things like “I just had an excellent, productive meeting with President Fernandez,” and so forth.

And today the press will be invited into the Oval after the meeting, one question from a U.S. journalist, one from a Dominican Republican journalist. And the U.S. journalist will totally ignore Fernandez and ask about the news of the day, and the Dominican journalist will either ask something off the wall like “Where’s Osama Bin Laden?” or, if he’s been prepped by Fernandez, “What about that $200 million that we need from you?”

Which is why maybe this meeting isn’t worth it.

Obama Cancels Asia Trip, Again

The White House has announced that Obama is canceling his upcoming trip to Indonesia and Australia for the second time, promising to get to them later. Here is a statement from Gibbs:

President Obama spoke tonight with Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, and with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia.  President Obama expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip to Asia that was scheduled for later this month.  The President  looked forward to rescheduling so that he can visit both countries soon.

Given that there is a national emergency in our country with the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis, it is very much the right thing to do.

The problem here is that he already canceled the same trip in March so he could focus on passing the health bill. Now, I’d never heard of a president nixing a foreign trip so he could pass a bill. But Obama promised change.

It is this earlier faux pas that makes the current situation so egregious.

Slights such as this are taken much more seriously in foreign lands than in the United States. A visit by the leader of the free world is a really Big Deal in other countries – even though lots of ’em hate us – and a sign of real importance and prestige. To have a U.S. president say, sorry, I’ve got something more important to do, like jawbone wavering Blue Dogs, is a humiliation.

The London Times reports today that Obama’s cancellations are further staggering Australia’s politically wobbly Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Australians and Indonesians can legitimately ask themselves if Obama would have canceled trips to Russia or China in order to focus on health care. Unlike China and Russia, Australia is our loyal and unwavering ally. And Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. These ain’t Lichtenstein and Palau we’re talking about here.

President Obama underscored his commitment to our close alliance with Australia and our deepening partnership with Indonesia.

Thanks mate!