President Obama bows to Japanese Emperor Akihito: Did he bow

too low, or was this just a formality unworthy of debate?



Global Geographic Times, People's Republic of China

The Hidden 'Arrogance' Behind Obama's Royal Bow


In bowing to foreign monarchs, including the Saudi king and the emperor of Japan, is President Obama signaling the inferiority of the United States, or just 'putting on a show'? According Diguo Zhunjiang, who writes for China's state-controlled Global Geographic Times, Obama's show of respect indicates absolutely no change in America's 'arrogant strategic thinking.'


By Diguo Zhunjiang [帝国准将]


Translated By Mark Klingman


November 15, 2009


People's Republic of China - Global Geographic Times - Original Article (China)


President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah at Buckingham Palace: Was it a bow? And was it just being polite to an older gentleman? The controversy rages.


CCTV NEWS, CHINA: China's state-run TV takes a look at the end of President Obama's trip to the country, Nov. 19, 00:03:50RealVideo

While in Tokyo, at noon on November 14, U.S. President Barack Obama met the Japanese emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Upon meeting him at the door of the royal residence, the tall Mr. Obama made an almost 90-degree bow and shook the emperor's hand. Obama stopped just shy of a deep bow, and shook hands warmly with the emperor and empress, saying, "it's really an honor to meet you, your majesty."


This wasn't the first time Obama showed such deference to a royal family. On April 1 at the G20 summit in London, Obama met with Saudi King Abdullah, shook his hand and bowed [see picture box, right]. This received wide media coverage and led to vocal opposition from the American public.


When the head of state of a superpower bows before a crowned monarch of a small country, it amounts to a great loss of face and puts the United States on a par with the head of a constitutional monarchy. What's worse is when such a head of state shows disrespect for the United States, which is a hard thing for the arrogant masses of the United States to swallow. An editorial in the Washington Times accused Obama of "paying obeisance to kings, emperors, monarchs, sovereigns and assorted other authentic man-made masters of the universe," in violation of the longstanding American tradition of not conforming to the tradition of bowing to royalty.



Another American newspaper commented, "The U.S. president used a bow to express greater respect for Islam, but in so doing undermined the strength and independence of the United States. This traditional act of bowing is only suitable for the king's subjects, not for persons on an equal footing" [translated quote].


In his recent audience with the emperor of Japan, Obama started this whole thing all over again. I regard this as a performance. If we say that his bow upon meeting the Saudi king was a genuine expression of traditional royal awe by the newly-elected Obama, then we can also say that this time, his bow was a way of getting back at domestic critics. His intentions are quite obvious: he wants a change from the cowboy-style arrogance of his predecessor Bush in order to re-establish the United States as a model of civility, but on a deeper level, repair the damage that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have done to America's image.


Obama's humility, however, doesn't mean that the U.S. is about to moderate its normal governing style. Since taking power, Obama has given the impression that there has merely been a shift in posture. Because as sole superpower, the United States can do nothing that doesn't appear arrogant - in many ways excessively so.


On the economic front, with the financial crisis and the serious threat of trade protectionism in the United States, Obama has ignored strong international opposition and in the course of increasingly dirty trade disputes, has narrow-mindedly imposed sanctions. On the political front, there has been no real turning point on the North Korea nuclear issue, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq or the situation in Afghanistan, while the trend in those areas has been toward an intensification of the turmoil. The year 2009 has been one in which a variety of conflicts have broken out: the forces of terrorism and separatism have grown exceptionally serious, which can only be described as extremely worrying. Militarily, one can see that Iran, Israel and the Middle East countries, as well as the emerging territorial and ocean boundary disputes in Asia - all could trigger conflict, whether American forces are withdrawn or not. 



President Barack Obama visits China's Great Wall, Nov. 18.




Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Obama a 'Humble Leader Worthy of His Great Nation'

The Times, U.K.: Obama Bow Shows 'Confidence'; Need for Change After Bush

Global Times, China: Addiction to Growth is China's 'Berlin Wall'

Global Times, China: U.S. and Beijing Disagree on Obama's Chinese Name

Global Times, China: Chinese Netizens Have 'Sharp Words' for President Obama

China Daily, China: Obama Can Teach Shanghai Officials a Thing or Two

China Daily, China: VIDEO - Chinese React to Visit of President Obama

Global Times, China: 'Obscene Postcard' Emerges of Taiwan President and Hillary

Der Spiegel: German Editorials - Obama's Soft Approach to China Won't Succeed

The Times, U.K. Obama's Bow to Japan Emperor Shows U.S. 'Confidence'

The Telegraph, U.K.: Obama 'Breaks Conciliatory Tone'; Criticizes China Censorship

The Australian, Australia: Obama's Personal Story No Substitute for Policy in Asia

Globe & Mail, Canada: China 'Plays Down' President Obama's Visit


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The U.S. will have to face these issues as long it's the country of greatest influence. Regardless of how humble it is in appearance, arrogant strategic thinking is in America's bones and will continue to be so. So we shouldn't place any hope in this false smile that has been grafted onto the United States. Rather, we should be more vigilant.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 20, 8:17pm]




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