Barack Obama finds the old adage “It takes two to tango” was right.
Barack Obama hadn’t looked as relaxed as he did during his Latin American trip. It was as if all the tension left him 10 months before his term in office ends, as if he left the campaign noise, the polemics and the harsh criticism of his Middle East policy all behind him. In Havana and Buenos Aires he showed his jovial side – the Good Yanqui – as opposed to motor mouth Donald Trump or foreign policy hawk Ted Cruz.
The image of the good American that had increasingly been worn away by bitter political infighting and had lost a lot of its luster is now making a comeback. Whether it was baseball in Cuba or doing the tango – a bit stiffly – in Argentina, Obama cut a pretty good figure with such diverse partners as Raúl Castro and Mauricio Macri while also managing to correct a few serious mistakes in U.S.-Latin American foreign policy that had given the “gringos” pretty much an arrogant image from the Rio Grande all the way to the Rio de la Plata.
Obama’s overtures in Havana as he sought to strike a balance between diplomatic criticism of the Cuban regime and inspiration for the Cuban people conveyed just the right tone to the rest of the continent bringing with it a necessary credibility – despite a rant by Nicolás Maduro, the scatter-brained Venezuelan president. The trip to Havana also secured Obama’s place in the history texts. That after Cristina Kirchner’s animosity toward Washington he was still able to form new friendships in Argentina and that he acknowledged U.S. complicity in Argentina’s 1976 coup d’état were brilliant moves. In America’s “backyard,” Obama was a lot luckier than he’s been in the complex Middle East situation. In Havana and especially in Buenos Aires, the old adage “It takes two to tango” was proven right.
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