Obama’s Gates Shut from Diplomacy

In an earlier article we talked about how the American founders intended our pursuit of happiness to be the same thing as a person’s responsibility to society. Another example reveals the genius behind the founders’ intention, with the concept of responsibility applied to happiness.

Fresh from the ratification of his New START treaty in the Senate, Barack Obama sent his Secretary of Defense on a mission to negotiate better ties with China. But soon after his arrival, the U.S. defense secretary was snubbed, according to The Wall Street Journal.

China rebuffed a U.S. proposal for a clear timetable of strategic defense talks on the first day of a long-delayed visit to Beijing by Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, and indicated that Taiwan remains the single biggest obstacle to improving the world’s most important bilateral relationship.

The reason for the snub is because China – with an economy projected to grow nearly 10 percent next year – feels little or no sense of responsibility for happiness in the United States. Compare their indifference to Russia, with citizens who are still alive to tell stories about American allies in the Great Patriotic War.

 “Always remember that covenants should be openly agreed to but privately negotiated.” – Richard Nixon

Reverse the situation to see why President Richard Nixon understood how international relations dictated that either of the two nations would feel a sense of responsibility for the United States.

As explained by an assistant, Nixon took advantage of the need for secrecy in international relations, when he informed Secretary of State Kissinger of plans to achieve the diplomatic triumph of the century with a 1972 visit to China.

Kissinger’s dominant priority was Soviet relations and the politics of missile weaponry. Any move toward China might threaten the objective of détente. As Kissinger told his deputy, Al Haig, “This crazy guy really does want to normalize our relations in China.” The word “triangularization” may have been first coined by Kissinger in backgrounders to newsmen to explain the inclusion of China in the U.S. policy to accomplish détente with the Soviet Union, but the concept was Nixon’s.

Preparing to ratify New START and follow the Senate’s lead, Russia is showing through its parliament a feeling of responsibility for America. But instead of focusing on more reasons why the defense secretary should instead be visiting Russia, to consolidate defense ties for applause and affection, let’s turn our attention away from government, and back to society, to further our understanding of happiness and responsibility.

Motivating to Peak Performance

 “These same principles could just as easily apply to the takeover of a company,” Nixon’s assistant said, explaining why private negotiations should precede open agreements, thus giving parties the freedom of flexibility that leads to responsibility and subsequent happiness.

Each of our first steps in pursuit of happiness requires us to decide what we’re responsible to do. Or as said by another leadership expert, “What we need is to replace the externally imposed spur of fear with an internal self-motivation for performance. Responsibility – not satisfaction – is the only thing that will serve.”


Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management (New York: Harper, 1986).

James C. Humes, Nixon’s Ten Commandments of Statecraft: His Guiding Principles of Leadership and Negotiation (New York: Scribner, 1997).

Richard Nixon, The Real War (New York: Random House, 1980).


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