United States President Barak Obama was welcomed to New Zealand for the first time on Thursday. Mr Obama was on a whistle stop tour of New Zealand, which includes a game of golf with New Zealand former Prime Minister John Key before a dinner hosted by Air New Zealand, followed by a Q+A.
Before he was even President, former U.S. President Barak Obama was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
That is a damn good question. To this day I cannot think of anything he had done for the world in terms of reducing conflict and its origins. He had not yet signed or started talking to the Russians about reducing the nuclear weapons stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia. This to his credit at the time, he did, but a general deterioration in the international geopolitical climate undermined it. Mr Obama can also take credit for engineering the Iran nuclear deal that infuriates Republican hawks to this day – against the advice of American “allies” – actually nations that I believe do not have America’s interests at heart at all – Israel and Saudi Arabia, he engineered a deal with the help of Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France whereby Iran can have a nuclear reactor for power generation, but not to create weapons grade material.
Unfortunately that is where the credits stop
I do not think in all cold honesty that history will be dreadfully kind to Mr Obama. Here is a man who had 8 years to gain international respect by reforming the C.I.A. and F.B.I. but failed to push the chance. Here is a man who let Russia and China continue their massive military build ups. They also have an agreement which means that an attack on one would probably be construed as an attack on the other.
It will be Mr Obama’s failure to address the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and the sectarian violence in both countries that followed that most people will remember.
Sure Mr Obama came here on a private visit. Sure he needed more security than most others would need due to his status as an ex-President. But none of this changes the fact that some truly dreadful things that a more moderate U.S. approach could have probably avoided, happened. They include the use of drones to assassinate suspected militants, only to find out later that wedding parties were being murdered by wayward rockets. These extendedinto Pakistan, which may help explain the deterioration of U.S.-Pakistani relations in recent years.
I am not sure who I am more frustrated with. Mr Obama for his failure to address the problems caused by his predecessor in the Middle East. Mr Obama also made the substantial misjudgement in enabling the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (T.P.P.A.)., a corporate agreement that effectively neutralizes the sovereignty of the signatory nations.
Or am I frustrated with the totally undue attention given by New Zealand media to a private visit where he clearly was not here for public engagements. The net value of this visit in terms of New Zealand gaining is zero (0). I do not think this will happen whilst New Zealand media favour infotainment, but this is a long way down from the truly award winning exposes of programmes such as Sunday. The primary responsibility of the fourth estate is to uncover stories and report them.
Either way other than marvelling at the wasted time burnt by obsessing over Mr Obama, New Zealand is not the benefactor.