The Realist Prism: APEC Summit a Missed Opportunity for Obama

The Realist Prism: APEC Summit a Missed Opportunity for Obama

President Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party to stand for a second term last night in Charlotte, N.C. But by adhering to the traditional schedule for the party’s convention, he excluded the possibility of attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok, Russia.

Obama declined the invitation to attend this year’s APEC conclave because he would not have been able to deliver his keynote address in time to fly out to Russia’s Far East for the meetings. But, ironically, a key reason for speaking in Charlotte -- to personally address tens of thousands of party activists who are vital to Obama’s re-election campaign -- was abandoned when weather forecasts forced the convention to switch the venue for its final evening from a 73,000-seat outdoor stadium to an indoor arena accommodating a fraction of that total. As a result, many of the grass-roots personnel ended up watching Obama on television after all.

Obama could have chosen to speak the first day of the convention, telling the party delegates that “the nation’s business” required him to travel to the APEC summit, thereby putting the national interest above personal political gain. Moreover, the agenda that he laid out in his speech -- doubling exports for the next two years, reducing dependence on traditional forms of energy and boosting the number of manufacturing jobs in America by 1 million -- is significantly tied to the fate and wellbeing of the APEC community of nations. After all, the Asia-Pacific region is going to be the engine that will revive a sluggish American economy.

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