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August 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Reconsider President Obama, summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Diplomacy is variously described as saying nice doggie, while groping for a rock, or the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way they look forward to the trip.
The point is to keep talking because of what might be accomplished. One cannot predict results, so keep chatting away. Keep the lines of communication open.
President Barack Obama was sufficiently ticked off by the Russians granting asylum to classified leaker Edward Snowden that the president canceled a summit meeting next month.
Obama is still going to the G-20 conclave in St. Petersburg, but a private get-together with President Vladimir Putin was scrapped. Obama had no compelling reason for doing so, at least nothing he shared in his one-hour press conference on Friday.
The U.S. president said his past chats with the Russian leader have been candid and blunt, and often very productive, but he would take a pass this time.
No, Obama said, it was not just about Snowden. A lack of progress on other topics – described earlier by the White House as arms control, trade, commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society – pushed the decision not to meet, the president said.
Really, a litany of important, unfinished business to talk about at the highest level is why two leaders would not meet?
Obama is ticked off. Fair enough. But that is no reason not to meet.
Snowden is irrelevant in his own way. His poor choices mock whatever point he was trying to make. His protests of the U.S. government’s treatment of citizens stirs him to seek shelter in that land of the brave and the home of the free – Russia?
Obama opened his press conference with a pledge to investigate the transparency and safeguards around U.S. intelligence and surveillance functions. He also invited Snowden to defend his release of government secrets in court. Maybe he will when he gets a sense of the devil’s bargain he accepted with Putin’s offer of refuge.