"This state visit is ... a terrible mistake," said Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
"He is illegitimate with his own people, and Brazil is now going to give him the air of legitimacy at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons."
Engel was speaking of the state visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that began Monday, at the invitation of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
Extending such an honor to the leader who hosted a conference of Holocaust skeptics and deniers, often predicts Israel will disappear from the map, stole his last election and is stiffing the West on Iran's nuclear program is clearly a poke in the eye of Barack Obama.
Nor is this the only dissing of Obama and America by Lula.
The Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa has, for two months, been host to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a Chavista, who was ousted by his own Supreme Court and booted out of the country by the army.
America will survive such irritants. But they are symptomatic of something larger: the mounting disrespect Obama and America are receiving from friend and adversary alike.
Under the new center-left government that broke a 50-year hold on power by the LDP, Japan will cease refueling U.S. warships off Afghanistan, is demanding renegotiation of a U.S. troop deployment deal already agreed to and is moving out of Washington's orbit -- and closer to Beijing. Pyongyang, having tested a second nuclear device, continues to dismiss all U.S. demands.
China just backhanded Obama's request to revalue its currency to stanch the steady hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs, technology and factories to the mainland, and treated Obama's call for openness and better treatment for dissidents and minorities with dismissive contempt.
Yet, had it not been for U.S. magnanimity in throwing open its market to Chinese goods, Beijing would never have registered the double-digit growth rates it has seen for the past two decades.
Some gratitude China is showing.
Despite U.S. warnings, President Hamid Karzai has stolen the Afghan election in a fashion so brazen as to make a mockery of U.S. claims of his legitimacy. Corruption remains pandemic, and ignored, including in Karzai's own family. He knows we have no other option.
Iran continues to slap away Obama's open hand, secure in the knowledge that China or Russia will veto any serious U.N. sanctions.
Israel, too, has taken the measure of Obama.
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