I am generally in favor of the policy of an opening to Cuba, but …
For those of you who are not acquainted with the universally accepted standards of diplomatic and government to government courtesy, a visiting official should be met at the point of debarkation by his/her counterpart. To do less than that is understood to be a gesture of disrespect.
The president of the United States is both Head of State and Head of Government. It would have been appropriate and respectful for the president of Cuba to meet him at the airport. The Foreign Minister of Cuba is in no way the protocol equivalent of the president of the United States. In my opinion Obama should have told the foreign minister that he would wait aboard Air Force One for an hour for Raul Castro's arrival planeside. Failing that arrival, a return to the US would have been appropriate for our delegation.
And then there was the moment in which Raul Castro attempted to hold Obama's arm up as though he were a prizefighter or some other ridiculous thing.
Does the Cuban government really want détente with the US? If so they had better clean up their act. pl
Did he try to embrace Obama though?
The protocol followed by the Cubans was probably a ‘reciprocal’ one. The President of the United States does not receive visiting Heads of State at the airport; they are welcomed by him at a ceremony at the White House.
This was not always the US practice – there is still a video going around of the visit (in 1961) of President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and his reception at Andrews AF Base by President Kennedy, his wife and the entire US government.
An arcane bit of Turkish history:
In may of 1932 Ismet Inonu, the Turkish prime Minister traveled to Italy on a state visit. He was traveling by ship to Brindisi and then by (special) train to Rome. His itinerary showed that he would be greeted at the Rome Central Train Station by Mr. Mussolini, then prime minister of Italy. During the trip the Italian Government informs Ismet Pasha that Mussolini has changed his plans and would greet him at the Prime Ministers Building. Ismet Pasha cables Ankara and asks what he should do. Kemal Ataturk cables back, telling him that he should return back with the same train if this were to be the case. The Italians are informed, and Mr. Mussolini and his secretary of state, Grandi, meet Ismet Pasha at the Rome Station.
M. Kemal and Ismet Pashas were soldiers and statesmen. Unfortunately for us, the islamic footpads “running” Turkey today are not. Dignity and honor are foreign words to these folks and their western allies.
As for Obama, perhaps he should have known better.
(reference: http://www.kitapbiti.com/ismet-pasanin-italya-seyahati/ in Turkish).
No comment on the welcome, but it strikes me that Raul Castro prevented POTUS from treating him like a child. Respect works both ways.
I think the MSM had a real romance going on with the prospect of a ‘kinder, gentler’ Cuba. Making nice noises about Pope Frank. Smiling for the cameras. And then they asked Raul about political prisoners and he did his best Spanish Kim Jong-Il impression.
Me thinks they aren’t really good at the whole diplomacy ‘big picture’ thing and they are absolutely not going to apologize for all the crap they’ve done in the past decades.
Viva la Revolucion Cuba!
The Americans have been squeezing the Cubans for half a century trying to make them dance to the Yankee tune and have had little success.
Now when Obama, for what ever reason, says he wants to play nice, you are amazed that they don’t immediately prostrate themselves and kiss the golden ring?
50 years of animosity does not disappear overnight
Obama doesn’t really take his responsibility as POTUS seriously.
He obviously doesn’t respect the office and thus is indifferent to insults to the office.
I think Raoul Castro received him in the morning at the Palace of Revolution. The Sunday part of his trip, I think, was considered private.
Yah – Obama went in for the customary abrazo, and Castro stopped him from it.
I would reckon that Castro would have met him at the airport, had Obama managed to lift the embargo.
>>>And then they asked Raul about political prisoners and he did his best Spanish Kim Jong-Il impression.
Funny how they never ask Obama about political prisoners.
I reckon that’s mainly because they want to spare the US president of being cynically compared to Kim Jong-Il.
soon this won’t matter. the Cuban old guard will be dead.
I’m with Brigadier Ali on this one. It is not customary for the President of the US to meet a visiting head of state at the airport. Obama did meet Pope Francis at the airport and that was considered an unusual honor. Castro did the same when Pope Francis last passed through Havana. It seems the rules of protocol are flexible. In this case, I don’t think an insult was intended or perceived.
“A State Arrival Ceremony is a ceremony in which a foreign head of state or head of government is formally welcomed to the United States. It takes place on the South Lawn of the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. ”
President Putin was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,
Pope Francis was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,
Chavez was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,
Ortega, was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,
President Xi was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,
Even back in the day, Krushchiev was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM.
So, how is Obama being greeted at the airport by the Cuban FM, an “insult”?
I doubt your take on protocol is accurate. I was in Farnborough when the Clintons arrived – Airforce 1 + a C5. The Queen certainly didn’t greet him (I doubt she ever does that). In fact IIRC there was no ministerial level type there, just some Foreign Office flunky. Maybe summits are different to state visits.
And does the POTUS really go to airport whenever some head of state arrives in DC?
The embrace attempt was a bit risque and that whole scene was awkward. According to this guy Kevin Casas-Zamora on AJ the Cubans acting cheeky is due to internal pressures to not bow to the US for the reasons Farmer Don was pointing out. Apparently, previous administrations’ attempts at detente were stumped by these antiques, but Obama is going to take all they can throw at him in order to seal the deal and crown his term with some historical achievement.
Fidel turns 90 this year. Raul 84. Hispanics in the U.S.A. are all colours from white to black. Most Cuban-Americans pass for white culturally in the U.S.A. Question? President Obama half white and half black. Given the current context of racial politics in the U.S. what is the liklihood that the roughly 60% of Cuba’s population culturally black if in the U.S. what is the chance that population will not be exploited by the U.S. in its attitudes towards Cuba post the Castro brothers?
Does Obama appreciate diplomatic niceties? There are also protocols for diplomatic gifts. I think Obama returned the bust of Churchill which a previous President had been given, and gave a pile of DVD’s as a diplomatic gift to Britain. His Secretary of State was hardly following the best traditions of courtesy and diplomacy when she gave the Russian Foreign Minister a cheap piece of plastic bearing the wrong Russian word, and her behavior was ungracious when he pointed out the error.
Queen Elizabeth is the sovereign. A president, any president, is not a sovereign. If a European king or queen (a sovereign) arrived in London for a state visit I would be surprised if the queen did not go to the airport. pl
I don’t think the Queen actually greets visiting Heads of State at the airport. TV always shows her greeting them at a state banquet.
‘The visiting head of state is immediately greeted upon arrival by the host (or by a lesser official representative, if the two heads of state are to meet later at another location) and by his or her ambassador (or other head of mission) accredited to the host country.’
Some heads of state are sovereigns and others are not. The queen is both. POTUS is not. Complicating this “discussion” is the obvious fact that she is a very old lady. I ask you, if the King of Spain arrives in England for a state visit, not a private visit, but a state visit, who would meet him at the point of arrival? Now, I take the point that POTUS does not helicopter out to Andrews to meet many heads of state. Well, maybe he/she should do so. Of course there is a matter of scale to consider. Should the president of Ecuador be greeted in the same way as the president of China? Are Chihuahuas and Great Danes really equally “Dog?” pl
“Are Chihuahuas and Great Danes really equally “Dog?”
Yes, they are – on paper and by convention – per the doctrines of Peace of Westphalia, UN Charter and Sovereignty.
And thus the countries such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea – where cannibals used to roam free until almost a hundred years ago, are to be treated on the same par as England or Italy or Japan.
On the other hand, while such countries as those in the Pacific are not “social equals” of many other states, how else one can treat them but with what passes as “international decorum”?
Decorum is a Heavenly Crown,
Put it on your head, go wherever you want.
So, you would opt for POTUS to greet all heads of state at arrival for official visits? pl
It is not my place to prescribe a specific protocol for US or any other country.
I recall comments I read by the Shah’s wife, Farah, to him – something to the effect that why cannot be more informal like King Hussein’s court.
My point is that it is best to treat everyone as though they are coming from the most important country in the world.
Just like my advise to any individual would be to treat others as thought they interlocutor is the richest or most famous person in the world.
Politeness is needed as a lubricant of social intercourse among individuals or states.
Thank you and that is why I think that it is of no importance whether you like someone or not. The Cubans need the US a hell of a lot more than the US needs Cuba and IMO it would have been prudent and courteous for Raul Castro to meet Obama at the airport. Chihuahuas and Great Danes are both dogs but we all know that they are not equal. Castro knows that very well. pl
In Russia as far as I understand highest possible rank of host at the airport is prime minister. And this is possible only once during term of office of a guest. If he is to visit again he will be met by deputy prime minister at best.
So I guess those protocols change from country to country. In case of Cuba I don’t think one is to expect special treatment for US.
But generally what I’ve seen of this visit is weird. Looks lIke Obama was expecting some kind of cordiality and all his attempts at it lead to awkward situations. I don’t know who’s fault is this. Is this cubans scoring points at his expense or him and his stuff didn’t bother to agree on protocol with cubans? Pure weird.
When Eisenhower arrived in Tehran, he was greeted by the Shah. His motorcade’s path was covered, from the airport to the palace, by Persian rugs.
You raise a nice point, Colonel. I don’t know the answer, but I have sent an email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who should know, asking them whether Her Majesty would be expected to greet the King of Spain at the airport. If in due course they give an informative response, I will pass it on.
There’s also the point that the courtesy associated with such diplomatic state visits is supposed to avoid discomfort or embarrassment on either side. If one or both behaves childishly and fails to understand such old fashioned concepts, one may wonder at what point true courtesy would require a descent into the sort of loutish behavior with which the less civilized might be comfortable, such as over-enthusiastic embraces, ‘high fives’ or calling each other ‘bro’, whilst wearing belt-less trousers that are falling down.
All sovereigns are equal, but some are more equal than others. Emperors could treat client kings and minor rulers differently from other Emperors (assuming they could even accept the legitimacy of there being ‘other’ Emperors). They might have to meet at their common border, as Napoleon met the Czar.
To be met immediately on arrival seems like a sign of particular personal and political favour, going beyond protocol, especially for the representative of a much weaker power. For a much weaker power like Cuba to treat the American head of state with less than the maximum courtesy is indeed a bit of a snub, which in other circumstances might be requited; but in foisting himself upon them and behaving in an undignified manner, Obama seems to invite and deserve it.
Concur–the rules are indeed flexible.
I was the Embassy Control officer for several POTUS visits to Russia, including a G-8 meeting. The Russian President did not greet POTUS or any other head of state at the airport. There were high level dignitaries there to greet them.
Et tu, Oofda? pl
“whether Her Majesty would be expected to greet the King of Spain at the airport.” Since she is the sovereign, I would think that it would be beyond the limits of office for anyone to “expect” her to do anything. I was speaking of what she might feel obliged to do. As for Obama, I am unaware of his “loutish behavior” in Cuba. pl
“The rules are flexible.” OK, but do you not think it would have been appropriate given the dignity of the first US presidential visit since the ’20s and the effort that Obama has put into the détente for Castro to have met him at the airport? pl
A larger number of Cubans refugees- guess which Castro drove them from their homes – in Florida disagree with your viewpoint.
pl and oofda,
Given all that has been said in this discussion, I’d call the airport greeting more a missed opportunity rather than a studied insult. This certainly was much more than a run of the mill state visit.
The situation of a state visit by a foreign sovereign is hardly unprecedented. I doubt that Her Majesty would allow any personal whim or weakness to override her adherence to tradition and her previous precedents. As you suggest Colonel, her visitor would doubtless be solicitous in respect of Her Majesty’s age and health, but she is a very tough and determined old lady.
The louts are likely to be along before many more Presidents have passed. Obama’s behavior in Cuba has not been loutish, although as previous commenters have mentioned, it has been awkward and uncomfortable. The man has the presence of a servant seeking to pose as a master and then trying to put his inferiors at ease. In that photo he looks like an air steward welcoming an important passenger aboard and holding an umbrella for him.He is not a good representative for a Great Power, because he lacks natural unforced authority and a sense of appropriate behavior. President Reagan was much better in that ceremonial role because he combined joviality with shrewd toughness and garnered respect for his country along with admiration for himself.
In any case, why is the President of the United States creeping around Cuba, fawning over and trying to cozy up to Communist dictators who have built their long careers on defying and insulting the United States whilst impoverishing, imprisoning and murdering their wretched subjects? Even they don’t want to be seen to be too closely associated with him! If the two governments want to improve relations it would seem more usual for the arrangements to be made through the usual diplomatic channels and then for the Cuban prime minister or President to be invited to Washington to pose for the press. That however might be better deferred until after the death of both Castros, which in the normal course of things will probably not be long deferred. It is demeaning for himself and his country for Obama to thus undermine the policy of his predecessors and then seem to be summoned to Cuba, as if to Canossa.
I think Castro’s taking lessons from Netanyahu on how to get along with Obama
I, too, find Obama’s behavior inexplicable. The Canossa analogy is apt. pl
Chihuahuas are hypersensitive and scrappy. Castro kissing the boot that has just been removed from their neck would likely be construed by Cuban malcontents as groveling or pandering.
I have consulted with my three Norwich Terrier girls (Lola, Ginger and Gidget) Their opinion, voiced in woofs, can be paraphrased as “F–k the Chihuahuas!” pl
“Castro kissing the boot that has just been removed from their neck…”
Boy people around the world are just going to love when relations are normalized and those now Yankified Cubans in Florida come back to the homeland the communists drove them or their parents out of. Especially when they bring all that American money with them to buy things up on the cheap; or at least the things the freedom and democracy loving Canadians and Europeans haven’t bought up already.
Chihuahua’s say Norwich Terrier girls are flat chested.
I am quite confident that the Queen does not greet foreign monarchs at the airport. For one, I have never heard of such a thing but more importantly the traffic on the M25 is quite awful and she wouldn’t get anything else done.
Practically speaking though, it would be a real nuisance when you have dozens of royals from all over the world arriving, for example during the 2012 silver jubilee. On that occasion the Queen greeted her guests at Windsor castle:
those were the days!
“And does the POTUS really go to airport whenever some head of state arrives in DC?”
According to Protocol, the South Lawn. Even the Queen of England was welcomed at Andrew’s by the Commander( IIRC) of the base and his wife back in 2007 before being officially welcomed by President Bush the next morning. Who can forget the picture of that morning :
a too-short lectern that left the audience to see only the queen’s hat behind !!!
I give up. “Her Majesty” was once Empress of India (however briefly) and I guess she does not consider other royals her equals. With regard to Obama, he continued today in Argentina to act on his mania for apologies rendered on behalf of the United States, (evidently a very imperfect country by his lights)by humbly declaring that he would order US military and intelligence papers having to do with the period of Argentine military dictatorship to be declassified and released, so that “the truth could be known about American support of the dictatorship.” In response an Argentine woman professor at Oxford U. told the BBC tonight that “at least we may learn of the fate of individual people.” Well, that means she thinks the US government had knowledge of the murders of individuals and therefore was probably approving their deaths at the embassy in BA. Unfortunately, no matter what or how much we release people like her will NEVER believe that was not true. Obama encourages that kind of thing. His flight attendant behavior in Cuba was consistent with his utterances during his presidency. He simply is ashamed of the United States and has always been. in this he displays the essence of his long held convictions, even as he deports Mexicans en masse and bombs away merrily across the world. Unfortunately, I will be unhappy to see him go. What will come next may well be worse. I hope the next president will be more willing to go to the airport to greet visitors so that he would be less likely to be thought someone who thinks himself an emperor. pl
They want me to get them a Chihuahua. pl
Queen Elizabeth II was never an Empress of India. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth, was Empress Consort until 1950. Also, I’m pretty sure she didn’t meet either Hirohito or Akihito at the airport when they started their very high profile state visits, nor John Paul II (whose state visit was a very big event).
I’m not convinced it is invariably the “done thing”, and hence, not an intentional slight. Anyway, that doesn’t seem to be Raul’s style – he strikes me as a calculating type, even when very young, as evidenced by this:
Do you think it was an accident that Obama scheduled the trip while the AIPAC convention was on? I don’t.
“Queen Elizabeth II was never an Empress of India. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth, was Empress Consort until 1950” How about “Defender of the Faith?” Will you give me that one? pl
Yes, thankfully, the modernisers’ wrecking ball has spared that.
We still have “Fid. Def.” on our coins. We haven’t had “Ind. Imp.” since the George VI 1 and 2 shilling coins went out of circulation in the 90s.
could be a whim. if not, start here …
AFAIK, in the UK, a lesser member of the royal family or court flunky, as representative of the Queen, is sent to the airport to greet visiting heads of state.
For example, for the State Visit of the President of The People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping in October 2015, the Palace sent The Viscount Hood, Lord-in-Waiting to greet him at the airport.
The last state visit by a European royal to the UK was by King Harald of Norway in October 2005. On his arrival aboard the Royal Yacht NORGE he was welcomed by The Princess Royal and Rear Admiral Timothy Laurence. The previous one to that was by Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark when The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester welcomed The Queen of Denmark and The Prince Consort of Denmark on behalf of The Queen at RAF Northolt.
Back in 1954, Prince Philip met King Gustav first before he was met by the Queen:
In 1962, the Queen did drive down to the local railway station to collect King Olav V of Norway.
Normally there are only two incoming state visits to the UK each year.
The Court Circular is saying that according to the Spanish Foreign Ministry the visit by the K&Q of Spain has been cancelled because of the political situation in Spain.
I’ve now received a definitive answer from the Deputy Head Visits in the Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
This is the nub of it:
‘When a foreign Sovereign or Head of State visits Her Majesty the Queen for a State Visit they are greeted by a representative of the Queen, which is a Lord Lieutenant. A representative of the Foreign Secretary (a retired high ranking diplomat) will also be present. There is no difference in this practice between sovereigns and other Heads of State. Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment on the practice in other countries as we only handle inward visits to the United Kingdom.’
cynic et al
Enough already! I accept that I did not know what I was talking about in terms of planeside receptions for heads of state, but I am unrepentant in believing that Castro was scoring points off us by not making the gesture. pl
Colonel, you were right in essence, but not in detail. Her Majesty does greet sovereigns and heads of state on arrival; not personally, but in the person of her representative (who is not a junior flunky). See the reply I posted above from the Protocol Directorate of the FCO. This is perfectly courteous and honourable. I expect that the visitors would have the courtesy of not expecting to monopolise the personal attention of their host. (Remember the old doctrine of the King’s two bodies, the personal and the political.)
Presumably state visitors to the United States would be satisfied by equivalent treatment.
India was granted independence in 1947.Queen Elizabeth’s accession was in February 1952. Her coronation was on 2nd June 1953. This was one of the earliest public events, reports of which I remember from childhood.
I have been astonished throughout life to find that the most anti-American people I’ve come across have been Americans. A house divided against itself. Of course there may be a reason why a half-caste with an exceptionally sized chip on his shoulder, born in Kenya, rejected as a bastard by his black father’s family, brought up in Indonesia as a Muslim, trained in rabble-rousing in black slums in America, unable to show evidence that he ever attended the places of education he claims, lacking valid documentation,dependent for advice, support and political advancement on shady jews, who treat him as a puppet, has been foisted as leader upon what is still (just about) a white Christian country. To destroy it.
There’s no harm in behaving as Emperor, if one has the Empire and the personal characteristics to go with it; but sitting petulantly on a throne which one at the same time endeavors to overthrow is absurd. It becomes even more bizarre if one is supposedly only first among equals in a polity that claims constitutionally to be a Republic and popularly a Democracy. Obama is not the equivalent of Romulus Augustulus, there’s more and worse to follow, but the course and stage of history is clear.
IMO the case has never been made for Obama having been born in Kenya. His Hawaii birth certificate seems conclusive to me. I am unaware that anyone has made a case for a problem with his educational records. pl
fred said: “A larger number of Cubans refugees- guess which Castro drove them from their homes – in Florida disagree with your viewpoint.”
How are you calculating that larger number driven from their homes an’ all?
Cuba’s population 1959-60 was 7 million and by 1973 it was 9 million. The number of people who left between 1959 and 1973 was 368,000
1959-1962 first wave: “Between 1959-1962, 119,922 Cubans arrived in the United States. These people were primarily of Cuba’s elite: executives and owners of firms, big merchants, sugar mill owners, cattlemen, representatives of foreign companies, and professionals. ”
text is not clear about what wave two was
1965-1973 third wave: “247,726 more Cubans had entered the United States [by 1973]. “This immigrant wave comprised mostly small merchants, craftsmen, skilled and semiskilled workers, and relatives of middle-class Cubans who had immigrated during the early 1960’s.
Oh come on, before Obama landed he was well aware that Raul was not going to meet him at the airport. I find that Raul not being there is a very minor act compared to the hostility the US unleashed on Cuba for half a century………
hadn’t read this political campaign speech from 56 years ago. is it inaccurate???
“now Yankified Cubans” meaning they had kids who learned all the glories of Che and Fidel from mom and dad, though I’m sure all our American college campuses have managed to eradicate those family values. They would obviously stay in Miami and watch as fine folks like the Obama backing Pritzker family come get rich in Cuba building hotels and such. I’m sure the left will be happy to aid in reforming the Cuban economy, assuming the Democrats win the 2016 presidential election. The left has plenty of experience from reforming Russia’s in the ’90s. What’s not to look forward too.
the left? seems to me the only difference between lefty and righty perfidy, fecklessness, greed, lust, or any of the rest of the deadlies is the principles they invoke to justify what they’ve done.
“they” maybe s/b “we”
thanks for the clarification — and the flinch-inducing prospect.
Greed is always a bipartisan temptation. Hopefully the Cubans who were “left behind” fair better.
William R. Cumming,
My guess is that Cuba’s “successor rulership generation” will try to move Cuba down the China Model road. They will try to make it take a decade or two and have a Communist Authoritarian Capitalism at the end of it. Part of why they will try this is to preserve their own Party Power Monopoly government, of course. Part of why they will try to do this is to get Cuba economically developed enough without any Miami Cuban involvement to the point where the Miami Cubans will not be able to flood into the Island and “Yeltsinize” the Cuban political economy to their own exclusive benefit.
Was Barack Obama born in Kenya? I thought he was born in Hawaii. I thought that question has been settled and put to rest. Is there evidence to indicate that I am wrong?