Protocol Matters

J. R. Dunn explains the linkage between China’s snub of Obama at the Copenhagen conference, and Barry’s earlier bow to the Japanese emperor. The sobering lesson: diplomatic protocol matters.

This only goes to underline the reason why diplomatic protocol exists in the first place — to exclude through ritual actions all possibilities that error, misunderstanding, or personal pique might interfere with matters of state. Obama has yet to learn this. His insistence on winging it, on reinventing established practice on his own terms, is potentially far more than simply embarrassing. It could be actively dangerous. His refusal to go by the rules may well have cost him the opportunity to pose as Savior of Gaia in Copenhagen. It may cost him — and the country — far more at some future time.

UPDATE: From Victor Davis Hanson, a prediction for 2010:

I think the overseas bowing, apologizing, and kowtowing will stop in 2010—it brought no tangible results. Indeed, Obama is one bow away from global caricature and humiliation.

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