In which an earnest young man discovers it is better to be respected than liked; the NY Times ponders Obama's evolution on China. I especially like this:
Mr. Obama’s turn to Asia was not precisely what he had in mind when he entered office. The shift emerged in fits and starts, after a first year in which critics, including the president’s aides, concluded that the United States had been too soft on China. In interviews, a dozen current and former administration officials described a White House that struggled to find the right tone with Beijing.
From his decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama in 2009 to his tightly constrained first trip to China, the president accommodated Chinese leaders in the hopes that the moves would translate into good will on issues like climate change or Iran’s nuclear program.
They did not. China spurned the United States on climate change standards, dragged its feet on efforts to pressure Iran and began bullying its neighbors over territorial claims in the South China Sea. That last development, in particular, persuaded the administration that the time for accommodation had come to an end.
“I certainly think we tested the limit of how far you can get with China through positive engagement,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “We needed to toughen our line in Year 2, and we did that.”
Fortunately, these lessons have been applied elsewhere in this canny White House:
To some extent, Mr. Obama’s learning curve on China parallels his early outreach to Iran: an initial hope that old adversaries could put aside their differences, followed by a jolting recognition of reality and the ultimate adoption of a realpolitik approach.
I am encouraged that it only took a year or two for Team Obama to stop believing their own BS. Well, some of it.