Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip All Style, No Substance

Posted by on Nov 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

So amid all the colorful and flirty photos from President Obama’s first tour of Southeast Asia, what did he actually accomplish? As usual, he served himself politically in what was largely a Potemkin mission abroad.

It was obvious enough from the rubelike gaffes that the president hasn’t been particularly interested or attentive to the affairs of Thailand, Burma or Cambodia as he made his first trip since his re-election. It was pretty much all style over substance.

In his tour of Burma, billed as an historic first visit since Burma’s 2007 move to democracy, it was clear he was in way over his head, even on small things. Obama repeatedly referred to the country’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader Aung San Suu Kyi as Aung Yan Suu Kyi, an astonishing error given her global fame.

He also bungled the norms of Burmese polite address, calling Thein Sein, the nation’s leader “President Sein,” an error comparable to addressing Cambodia’s Pol Pot as Mr. Pot.

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