Beijing - The Leadership Image
Washington, DC, Aug 10th, 2008 -- The greatest Olympics ever, the most expensive, with the most eyeballs watching the leaders of the world in attendance. The image of power and diplomacy. The Chinese leader looked, spoke and acted like a future Superpower leader.
On the other hand the President of the United States came over less than Presidential, and at times didn't seem to appreciate his required perception on the world stage. Dressed as if to go down to the local country store, playing volleyball, even playing on a Mountain Bike are not the images to provide to one fifth of the population of the world, watching the world leaders for probably the first time.
Before the Bush years America was the beacon of hope for generations. Today many immigrants to America are returning to their original countries, especially in Europe and Asia. The Chinese engineers are looking to move back, as are the Indian software developers. Health care, intolerance and violence being the reasons high on their lists. Whatever the reason America is no longer the beacon of hope and freedom, except to waves of Hispanic workers wanting agricultural and low paying service jobs.
A smart Presidential team, which this one certainly is not, would have pulled out all the stops to influence the "Hearts and Minds" of the Chinese people, glued to their TV sets, and the billions around the world. Instead of focusing on this unique, once in a lifetime opportunity, the Administration brags about sending more warships to the Persian Gulf, escorted by Israeli warships.
What a wasted opportunity !!
It has to be said that Global Communications are not a strong hand of the Bush Doctrine. Threats, posturing, and paying with borrowed money and domestic bank failures are their hallmark. Karen Hughes, brilliant at whipping the minions into line, and "On Message" is probably the worst person to have been entrusted with global communications and diplomacy. She realized that and quit a second time. Then there is "Condy" Rice as George affectionately calls here. Enough said!
But even these misfits could have realized the enormous potential of the visual messages from the Olympic Games. They should have thrown every PR Agency on contract to the US Government into building bridges for the United States. But alas it seems the sight of more warships and soldiers going to their deaths in the Middle East gets them into a state of arousal.
President Bush, slumped in his seat, bored and looking like he had too much booze the night before, used the opportunity of being in Beijing to lecture the Chinese on Human Rights. His words fell on death ears, and irritated the masses.
What students of Diplomacy and International Communications should notice here is the strength of the message from Corporate America, versus the abysmal failure of the message from their current Government. Considering the fact that the Chinese leadership had loaned Bush the money to invade Iraq, it was like watching an unwashed homeless person lecturing his Bank Manager. What happened!!
Instead of Bush hugging and leering at the Beach Volleyball team he could have scored many points meeting the 9 year old who escaped the Earthquake and went back to rescue his class mates. But showing the contempt he showed to the survivors of New Orleans maybe Beach Volleyball was more in character.
McCain may deride Obama for getting 200,000 Germans to cheer him on his visit to Berlin, and using it in a negative commercial, but Obama would have had many times more impact on the Chinese people, and the Chinese political process had it been he, and not Bush there at the defining moment of the 21st Century. America Blew It!
There are more funds being spent on the image of the United States than the Chinese spent on the opening night of the Olympic Games. But it is from the Pentagon budget, is propaganda and bribes, and the world knows it. What a unique opportunity, squandered and lost for ever.
Beijing Olympic Games showed the passing of the torch from the American Century, to the Chinese Century. It should not have been that way. Thank you President Bush.
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