Presidents Obama and Rousseff Meet: Power Talk, but Little Purpose
Ray Walser /
Americans looked to President Obama to set a bold and decisive course when he huddled yesterday with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. There are critical issues on the table: Iran, the future of democracy in the Americas, free trade, energy security, and the fight against organized crime. Regrettably, serious discussion of these overarching issues was not forthcoming.
On April 9, after the Easter egg roll, President Obama sped through a meeting with Rousseff, one of the world’s most powerful female leaders. While there were smiles and positive atmospherics with Brazil’s one-time Marxist guerrilla turned 21st-century social democrat, it was hard to detect evidence that the encounter had markedly improved U.S.–Brazil relations. Or that the President had articulated a statement of U.S. interests and values.
While fact sheets and statements flowed, the President’s office was tight-lipped about what was achieved. No press conference followed, and the White House’s statement was cryptic:
President Obama met with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil today to discuss the bilateral relationship between the two countries.… The two leaders also discussed a wide range of global issues, including global economic growth, the situation in the Middle East, and progress the two countries have made as co-chairs of the Open Government Partnership, which is increasing transparency and accountability in governments all around the world.
Recommendations for boldness by the Obama Administration either were not discussed or were kept for the executive office’s secret minutes.
“Unfortunately,” observed Moises Naim, an advocate of a trade deal, in the Financial Times, “unless Ms Rousseff and Mr Obama disrupt the status quo in their countries’ relationship, this will continue to be a story of missed opportunities, in which minor agreements are extolled as epic changes while, in practice, the two nations continue to fail to forge a world-changing alliance.”
The Washington Post on April 10 found the event so un-noteworthy that it did not report it. Regrettably, the Obama–Rouseff meeting serves as a foretaste of the upcoming Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia on April 14–15, where paper production will be equated with policy success.