For those of you who do not consume Naked Capitalism regularly, Clive is an IT professional and our resident Japanophile.
From comments yesterday:
Clive and Yves: Now, if we go with a corollary to Yves Smith’s Law,* That every challenge to the Obama Administration is met with more propaganda, is it possible that this whole Hiroshima visit is to get Obama’s “legacy” of the TTIP through the Japanese Diet? I have had doubts for some time that Obama has a moral compass, but I’m starting to get a whiff of Great Moral Leader wants trade deal so he heads to an area of Japanese emotional vulnerability.
Next, he’ll be attempting to quote Murasaki Shikibu.
May 12, 2016 at 9:44 am
I think this may have been the intention (getting the TPP some positive “transformative” vibe). But if that was ever the idea, Obama chickened out and blew it.
* * * *
May 12, 2016 at 9:39 am
The Japanese language press is being quite pointed in making it clear that Obama is refusing to move the U.S.’s established position on the nuclear weapons use in Japan at the end of WWII. The Asahi Shimbun’s coverage http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASJ5D21T6J5DUHBI005.html has a perceptible sneer in it’s tone in describing Obama’s “address” at Hiroshima (the article used the Japanese language equivalent of inverted commas) in the headline.
It doesn’t quite say “Obama’s coming to Hiroshima and bringing nothing other than tea and sympathy” but this is what a reader in Japan is most likely to take away from reading the piece. No major speech and — this was drawn attention to specifically — no meeting with the hibaku-sha (Japanese A-bomb survivors). Just some flowers and a “looking back” (according to White House Press Spokesman Josh Earnest) at the events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The feature goes on to say that Obama was unable to make any statement which might be construed as an apology because of “deep rooted” domestic U.S. opinion on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. I can’t quite tell whether the Asahi article is doing one of two things. Either it is trying to paint Obama as a feeble spent force, lacking leadership in his failure to even try to move U.S. public opinion (the Japanese would then see Obama as being a weak figure, not possessing any authority to be able to even try to change the U.S. population’s viewpoint). Or, the Asahi is conjuring up the well-worn (in Japan, anyway) cliché that Americans are a bunch of entrenched thoughtless ignoramuses incapable of entertaining any ideas which challenge preconceptions. A kind-of burger-eating Dothraki, Cadillac-driving rather than horse-riding, who cling to unsubstantiated thought forms needing no more justification than adding “it is known” after uttering them.
Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Whichever, neither Obama nor the U.S. comes out well from this debacle. If it’s just Obama whose reputation is being trashed, well, who cares. It’s about time the world saw through his flimflam. The people of the U.S. though, when taken as a whole, deserve a bit better than that.
Perhaps I’ll reserve judgement until after the event, but so far, Obama’s Hiroshima visit is shaping up to be a PR disaster, at least as far as the Japanese language media is concerned. He’s managed to underwhelm fairly conservative outlets like the Asahi. Less restrained media will be even more critical. If he can’t do any better than this, Obama would serve both his own — and U.S. — interests better by staying at home.
And isn’t this just so typical of Obama ? Wanting to make the big gesture, play the master statesman, getting everyone to seriously think he’ll do something radical — but in the final analysis ending up nothing more than doing a tacky photo-op. Hello Kitty does the nuclear holocaust legacy tourist trail.
* The precise formulation is: “Obama believes that every problem can be solved with better propaganda.”