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Judith Ellis

Judith Ellis

Posted April 22, 2009 | 12:26 PM (EST)

Being Berated for a Handshake and a Smile


It is absolutely ludicrous, not to mention utterly hypocritical, that President Obama is being berated by the Right for shaking hands and smiling with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas in which both leaders were invited to participate. Should a recount of the many years of handshakes, kisses, smiles and other diplomatic measures be given in recent history from President Ronald Reagan to President George W. Bush? More importantly, has the estrangement of certain leaders of the last 30 years worked? Has calling world leaders members of the "axis of evil" worked? Has getting up and walking out in international meetings worked? No, no, no!

These hypocritical hard-line policies and often child-like behaviors have not worked. We take a stand against human rights violations in Cuba and embrace China. We go to international meetings with diverse world leaders and walk out when their words are contrary to our beliefs. (Maybe more women should be in attendance at these meetings. Who teaches their children that these methods of dealing with conflict are acceptable?) Power does not exhibit itself always in arms and standoffs. A great leader has an array of arsenals at his disposal to disarm and they are not all bombs and isolation policies.

A handshake and a smile may just go further than some policies of the past.