President Obama debuts this week on the stage of world diplomacy.
He’s in London for three days for the G-20 economic summit, and then on to Strasbourg for a NATO summit, followed by the European Union summit in Prague, capping his first overseas trip as president with a visit to Turkey.
The run up to the summit has been one of steadily lowered expectations. Obama and his advisers had hoped to enlist the other major trading nations in a co-ordinated global stimulus package.
But those nations, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, balked at going any further into deficit and indeed are likely to questions Obama about how the U.S. plans to repay the vast amounts of money it has borrowed to fight the recession.
Obama arrives with a lot of ready-made good will from the G-20 leaders and he is enormously popular with their publics, but atmospherics can carry you only so far in diplomacy.
And although his larger plans for the summit may not be realized, the president can count it a success if this meeting doesn’t make matters worse, specifically if Obama can win agreement on halting the slow slide toward protectionism.
As of their last meeting, 17 of the 20 have instituted some sort of protectionist measures, not what the world needs right now.
Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.