Monday, October 5, 2009

Obama's Olympic Failure Highlights Limits of His Appeal

"This wasn't supposed to happen to him.

It may have only been the Olympics but President Obama's high-profile failure to win the games for Chicago has raised serious questions about his perceived international star power.

The president's last-minute appeal for his home city to host the 2016 Summer Games fell flat when Chicago was knocked out in the first round. The top prize eventually went to Rio de Janeiro.

Now critics are asking: If Obama can't sway Olympic officials, how can he wring concessions from Iran on its nuclear program, secure crucial support from allies to overhaul two wars or rebuild the U.S. image in the Middle East?

But others downplay Obama's failure in Copenhagen.

"Competing to host the Olympics has nothing in common with negotiating arms control treaties or negotiating Iranian compliance to its treaty obligations," foreign policy analyst Joseph Cirincione told in a phone interview from Switzerland.

Cirincione said Olympic officials pay little attention to the persuasive skills of the negotiator, noting that former South African President Nelson Mandela failed to get them to award the games to his country.

But Obama's failure in Copenhagen is feeding a growing perception that he is tall on rhetoric and short on results and more of a celebrity than a leader.

Since taking office in January, Obama has made a number of gestures to the international community. He ordered the closing of the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, banned the torture of terrorist suspects and moved to address climate change and reduce nuclear weapons. He even delivered a high-profile speech to the Muslim world.

Still, the president doesn't have much to show for his efforts. Despite his global overtures, Obama has been rebuffed by international leaders for stimulus money, for additional troops in Afghanistan and now the Olympics."

For the rest of the story click below.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

1 comment:

Nameless Cynic said...

Wow, you're absolutely right! Failing to get an athletic competition is exactly the same as negotiating with insane dictators!

You know, funny thing, though. One of the reasons that we got turned down is because restrictions on travellers that were put in place by the Bush administration.

Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, said following the announcement that pointed out that entering the United States can be "a rather harrowing experience;" unlike Brazil, which has a reciprocal visa agreement with all of the other countries participating, the US requires all visitors to jump through hoops to enter the country, unless you're from one of the only 35 countries (mostly European) with a visa waiver.

But you're right! This is a humiating defeat for Oprah, too. She'll probably lose her TV show over this. I wonder if her magazine will fold.

And, of course, since King Carlos of Spain and Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama were also on hand, this must be equally humiliating for them, as well. I mean, it's a good thing that Japan holds about 50% of our foreign debt (or however much it is between them and China - I'm just too excited about this humiliation for Oprabama to look it up), otherwise that country would be going down!

And King Carlos might as well just give it up. He's going to be deposed over this; you can smell the blood in the water.

You know, there's probably naysayers out there who'd try to claim that, since the Olympics come around every four years or so, maybe the fact that other countries get one or two doesn't really matter, but they're just stupid.