After all the claims that Barack Obama was going to be a new type of American president, after all the optimism throughout the world that he would be more internationalist in his policies than his predecessor, it now appears that for those of us who do not live in the USA it is business as usual. Like John F. Kennedy before him, Obama may appear at first glance to be an American president who seeks partnerships rather than master/slave relationships in his foreign policy, but, also like Kennedy, when push comes to shove, he wants to make sure the US gets its own way throughout the world as fervently as any GOP American patriot.
In the last few weeks, Obama has engineered the downfall of the duly elected Japanese government and the ruination of the political career of the Japanese prime minister because he didn't want an American military base in Japan moved to another location in Japan, which the Japanese people had demanded when they elected the first liberal government for forty years less than a year ago.
Obama has also called for an increase of American influence throughout the world because some of the developing countries are beginning to have influence beyond their own borders and are becoming less reverential of the US and its mighty dollar.
Of course, all this is just politics and what one would expect from any national leader. Putting your own country first is not only natural for such people but also extremely sensible if they wish to be reelected.
The leader of the Episcopal Church in the USA, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has been in the news, and on most US based Anglican blogs, this week for, "at last," standing up to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and telling him, in no uncertain words, to bog out of TEC's business. I hope her letter puts a stop to Williams' meddling in the sovereign provinces of the Anglican Communion. But, I also hope that the irony of this situation is not lost on, at least, Anglican Americans.
The reason why American episcopalians are so annoyed with Williams is that he has consistently acted like an American president. He has claimed the role of head honcho of the whole Anglican Communion in the same way that US presidents have, in the recent past, claimed the role of head honcho of the world. Of course, under existing rules and regs neither actually possess the authority or mandate to legally take on such roles. They have got away with their usurping of power simply because they are the biggest bully in the playground.
It is right for TEC to resist the interference of foreign influence in their democratic policies. But making such a fuss about being victims of some foreign oppressor is a bit rich coming from Americans. It is all rather hypocritical.
So, keep fighting, my American friends. But do so with humility and learn the lesson of your situation. And perhaps your new knowledge of the reality of international politics, whether secular or ecclesiastical, will lead you to demand that your secular government develops a less gung-ho attitude towards the other nations of the world. All TEC is asking for is a bit of respect. But remember, Prime minister Yukio Hatoyama could have done with a bit of respect, from Barack Obama, for his democratically sanctioned office. Those who demand to have their cake and eat it too do sometimes end up choking on it - no matter how big their mouths are.