ROME -- What did President Obama achieve for himself and for America during last week's G-8 summit? Not much.
Despite what presumably was his best effort at using the charm, personality and teleprompter that catapulted him into office, he was unsuccessful in persuading either wealthy or developing nations to sign off on a plan to combat "global warming." It's not that he lacks support from the European media. CNN International and the BBC, among others, continue to blanket their networks with "green" propaganda in a disinformation blitz that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.
If President Obama can't convince 17 of the world's leading polluters to do more than pump out political hot air with nothing meaningful beyond unspecified pledges to reduce carbon emissions, why should Americans go it alone, or with only some European nations joining us (maybe)? Congress favors a far more restrained approach to "global climate change" than those who pollute the planet far more than we do.
The president announced more aid for poor African nations, something that will have a limited effect given the track record. The British, especially, are fixated on African poverty, perhaps as atonement for past colonial sins. Obama persuaded the G-8 to increase from $15 billion to $20 billion over three years the money wealthy nations will send to poor African countries. Given the corruption that has siphoned off huge amounts of aid in the past -- a fact Obama acknowledged even while committing and asking for more money -- it is unlikely new money will produce different results than old money when poured down the same rat hole. What Africa needs is political, religious and economic reform and only then might aid help poor Africans become self-sustaining.
In the most important arenas -- foreign policy and domestic security -- nations and terrorists who mean America harm have a right to think President Obama is weak and can be challenged with few consequences. While the response to the Somali pirates offered an initial sign that the president was prepared to use force against bad people with evil intent, subsequent statements and inaction to other threats are not encouraging. Islamic insurgents in Somalia allegedly tied to al-Qaida recently carried out a series of killings, bombings and other attacks against Westerners and African security forces without even a rhetorical response from the president.