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Diplomatic Embarrassments in Modern History | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. President Barack Obama disembarks from the Air Force One at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in eastern Zhejiang province on Saturday. Reuters

Washington-On Monday, during a ceremony to celebrate U.S. Labor Day and in an electoral tour in Cleveland, Republican candidate Donald Trump criticized the behavior of President Barack Obama after a diplomatic snub he received during his visit to Beijing where Chinese authorities refused to provide the U.S. president with stairs to step out from the airplane, which pushed him to use a small door in the rear of the plane.

Trump said that if he were Obama, he would have preferred to cut his visit short and return home.

Two days after the Chinese snub, Obama was also offended by the Filipino President who described him as a “son of a …”, as a response to his criticism to his war against drug dealers and his permission for the authorities to kill them. Many governments and international organizations have criticized this decision and said it is a bloody chaos and violates the laws.

A day after this offence, the White House canceled a meeting that was set between the two presidents.

In the G20 summit, during the official group photo of leaders, Chinese Protocol Officials asked India’s PM Narendra Modi to stand at the side of the front row. The next day, the Times of India newspaper reported: “They put us on the margin of the front row; at least they didn’t put us at the end,” pointing to tense relations between the two countries.

During his years in the White House, Obama didn’t hesitate to embarrass leaders of other countries starting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The most famous embarrassment was in 2010, when Obama left a meeting with Netanyahu in Washington, saying that it was his dinner time, and asked his assistants to inform him if the Israeli PM had a say on the issue.

In the White House too, documents have revealed that in 1998, President Bill Clinton had been an hour late to his meeting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat because he was with his mistress Monica Lewinsky at his office.

Other U.S. documents have also revealed that in 1972 President Richard Nixon ordered his assistants to make the Indian PM, at that time Indira Gandhi, wait for 30 minutes before the meeting took place; he also described her as “a dog” because she had heavily criticized him during the phase of India’s communist policies.

On Tuesday, Newsweek magazine wondered whether Obama intends to meet with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, after he described him as “the grandson of Kenyans who hated the British Empire.”

Some offences were made unintentionally, like in 1978, President Jimmy Carter visited Poland; mistakes were made by the interpreter, who translated a part of carter’s speech as “I will never return to this country.”

In 1992, President Georges Bush the father visited Australia and the settlements of the aborigines; when he was leaving, he raised his two fingers to show the sign of victory. He later found out that this sign is considered an offense.

During a tour for Georges W. Bush in Asia, and during a dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister at that time, Bush felt pain in his stomach and vomited over his host’s clothes.

Many other offences have taken place with many politicians and diplomats; Obama and his wife have also faced many offences concerning their skin color at several events.