[Barack Obama's] first meeting [with Russia's Vladimir Putin] was marked by a nearly hourlong lecture by Mr. Putin about all the ways the United States had offended Moscow. At their second, Mr. Putin kept Mr. Obama waiting 30 minutes.Even the New York Times is forced to admit that Barack "smart diplomacy" Obama often gets the cold shoulder abroad, as Mark Landler and Peter Baker report on "very blunt conversation[s]" and "bruising encounters", given that the Apologizer-in-Chief's "main counterparts on the world stage are not his friends, and they make little attempt to cloak their disagreements in diplomatic niceties."
While tangling with the leaders of two cold war antagonists of the United States is nothing new, the two bruising encounters in such a short span underscore a hard reality for Mr. Obama as he heads deeper into a second term that may come to be dominated by foreign policy: his main counterparts on the world stage are not his friends, and they make little attempt to cloak their disagreements in diplomatic niceties.
Even his friends are not always so friendly. On Wednesday, for example, the president is to meet in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who has invited him to deliver a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. But Ms. Merkel is also expected to press Mr. Obama about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, which offend privacy-minded Germans.For all of his effort to cultivate personal ties with foreign counterparts over the last four and a half years — the informal “shirt-sleeves summit” with Mr. Xi was supposed to nurture a friendly rapport that White House aides acknowledge did not materialize — Mr. Obama has complicated relationships with some, and has bet on others who came to disappoint him.“In Europe, especially, Obama was welcomed with open arms, and some people had unrealistic expectations about him,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a longtime senior American diplomat. Noting that Mr. Obama continued some unpopular policies like the use of drones, he said, “People don’t appreciate that American interests continue from administration to administration.”
… Mr. Obama spent nearly four years befriending Mr. Putin’s predecessor, Dmitri A. Medvedev, hoping to build him up as a counterweight to Mr. Putin. That never happened, and Mr. Obama now finds himself back at square one with a Russian leader who appears less likely than ever to find common ground with the United States on issues like Syria.… “You don’t need to be buddies with someone to establish an effective relationship,” said Mr. Burns, who now teaches at Harvard. “Not everyone can be Roosevelt and Churchill forming a personal bond to end the Second World War.”
Even with friends, however, there is tension. President François Hollande of France was initially thrilled with Mr. Obama because he saw him as an ally against Ms. Merkel on economic issues.
As for R. Nicholas Burns, we mention his FDR quip — “Not everyone can be Roosevelt and Churchill forming a personal bond to end the Second World War” — as we wonder how many media types recall how often they gushed about the One's "smart diplomacy", how often they claimed he was the man to bring respect and love back for America, and how often, precisely, they compared BHO to FDR (if it wasn't to Lincoln, to JFK, or to Reagan).But by the time they met at the Group of 8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, the relationship had soured, according to French analysts, because France is frustrated that the United States did not do more to help with the war in Mali and resisted a more robust response to Syria.Mr. Obama differs from his most recent predecessors, who made personal relationships with leaders the cornerstone of their foreign policies. The first George Bush moved gracefully in foreign capitals, while Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush related to fellow leaders as politicians, trying to understand their pressures and constituencies.“That’s not President Obama’s style,” said James B. Steinberg, Mr. Clinton’s deputy national security adviser and Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state.… For Mr. Obama, no relationship is more prickly, and yet more significant, than that with Mr. Putin. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush forged strong partnerships with their Russian counterparts, Boris Yeltsin and Mr. Putin, respectively. But even that did not prevent ruptures over NATO military action in Kosovo and the Russian war in Georgia.Mr. Obama arrived in office determined to invest in Mr. Medvedev, but he underestimated Mr. Putin’s continuing power. Their first meeting was marked by a nearly hourlong lecture by Mr. Putin about all the ways the United States had offended Moscow. At their second, Mr. Putin kept Mr. Obama waiting 30 minutes.… However strained their appearance on Monday, Mr. Obama did not publicly criticize Mr. Putin on human rights or the rule of law. While the White House is frustrated by Russia’s refusal to abandon Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Mr. Obama has been reluctant to intervene more forcefully on behalf of the rebels.
"Obama did not publicly criticize Mr. Putin on human rights or the rule of law." Well, no, that's something that's reserved for Republicans.