Obama was told a trip to Olympics meeting may clinch Chicago win
Up until a few days before flying to Copenhagen, Obama was not sold on the idea. He was concerned he would be gone when the healthcare debate hit the House or Senate floor.
In the run-up to the Olympics vote, the White House was getting a clear message from the architects of Chicago's bid: Balloting would be tight, and a personal visit to Copenhagen from President Obama just might lock in a victory.
October 5th: From the Daily Telegraph:
Obama refuses Dalai Lama meeting 'to please China'
President Barack Obama has refused to meet the Dalai Lama in Washington this week in a move to curry favour with the Chinese. The decision came after China stepped up a campaign urging nations to shun the Tibetan spiritual leader.
It means Mr Obama will become the first president not to welcome the Nobel peace prize winner to the White House since the Dalai Lama began visiting Washington in 1991.
The leadership of the US appears to have found a very ineffective set of advisers for itself. This would not set the US apart from many other countries, of course, but it would set today's US apart from most of its own history. Depending on one's political viewpoint one can easily disagree with many of the decisions made by presidents over the last, say, 70 years, but one can usually see that the decisions were designed with a longer-term aim in mind. Nixon's moves toward the PRC are a good case in point. Clinton's measured reactions to al qaida and other terrorist attacks is another good example of restraint and preparation.
The current leadership appears to have recruited some advisers who suffer from the same malaise as much of the rest of the western world - the demand for instant gratification and the worship of the almighty poll survey.
President Obama has, at present, a fairly small number of important projects to manage, and, in my opinion, should not allow himself to be sidetracked into actions that may or may not contribute to his success in the major areas.
The major areas are, again in my opinion:
- The formulation of a properly planned, articulated, and implemented strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan, changing the current reactive and mainly-military strategy into a strategy for rebuilding these countries, turning them into places where the people look on Americans and Britons automatically as their friends, just as the people of Europe did after the last world war.
- The adoption of a stance on nuclear proliferation that can be supported by Russia, if not China. The adoption of this limited version of Realpolitik would improve US standing in the eyes of Russia and Europe as well as, hopefully, obtaining the desired prevention (see Dennis Ross' book on statecraft).
- The pursuit of a publicly-popular and fiscally- responsible policy towards the financial institutions of the USA. These corporations have taken public monies and now proceed to disburse huge individual rewards while refraining from the actions that the granting of money was explicitly intended to achieve. The American public is genuinely unhappy to see that while their boss cannot meet payroll because he or she cannot get a loan to expand to win a new contract, the banks are happily spending huge amounts of money buying each other up.
- The aggressive and enthusiastic promotion of development of a general reduction of the usage of energy sources that contribute to the destruction of the climate. "Clean coal" is, without a huge future investment, a complete oxymoron. Natural gas is cleaner than oil, but certainly not clean in any absolute sense. Nuclear fission power is, for the moment, probably the most reliable energy source that is also least harmful to our environment in the immediate future, despite the justified worries about the future of the associated waste. One must break eggs in order to bake a cake, as the saying goes: it will be necessary to make some limited damage to the environment in order to prevent much worse damage.
- The public initiation of planning with Canada to coordinate the migration of agriculture as the global climate changes. If the climate warms and dries, as expected, in the grasslands and praries of the centre of the continent, the agricultural "prime zone" for many crops will move north, so the two countries must plan together to adjust their economies for this.
- The increase of diplomatic efforts to achieve the beginnings of peaceful relations between the various countries in the Middle East. Every authority from every side seems to have entered this arena with lofty goals, only to fand themselves flattened in short order. Perhaps the promotion of less lofty aims will enable the countries involved to obtain a firmer grounding for long-term peace.
More Geekiness next time, I'm sure!