President Barack Obama has yet to meet with the new head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and won’t see Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week, even though he is in Washington for three days. Stoltenberg’s office requested a meeting with Obama well in advance of the visit, but never heard anything from the White House, two sources close to the NATO chief told me.
The leaders of almost all the other 28 NATO member countries have made time for Stoltenberg since he took over the world’s largest military alliance in October. Stoltenberg, twice the prime minister of Norway, met Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa to discuss the threat of the Islamic State and the crisis in Ukraine, two issues near the top of Obama’s agenda.
Apparently, part of fundamentally transforming America includes deliberately shunning our allies, while appeasing our foes.
For all the times people tell me how smart Obama is, I see incidents like this where the administration shoots itself in the foot, in terms of optics. How hard would it have been to have a cup of coffee, a quick couple of photos, exchange some pleasantries, and move on. No one genuinely expects matters of true substance to be decided, or even likely discussed, but simply letting our allies know we as a nation are listening to them goes a long ways.