After all the chatter about nukes, loose and otherwise, 36 heads of state are heading home from Washington to tout their world leadership chops and their influence with the Obama administration.
The winners at this week's nuclear summit were easily identified: They were the ones who got bilats with President Obama -- not a bodybuilding term, it stands for bilateral, or one-on-one, chat -- showing their prestige and importance. Chinese President Hu Jintao obviously heads the list, having chatted with Obama for 90 minutes. (And what is with this bowing business?
Included in the winner group is Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, who is not really a world leader but only a foreign minister.
By far the biggest loser of the extravaganza was the hapless and (in the opinion of some Obama administration officials) increasingly loopy Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He reportedly requested but got no bilat. The only consolation prize was that he got an "unofficial" meeting during Monday night's working dinner. Maybe somewhere between the main course and dessert?
A rich man's son, Hatoyama has impressed Obama administration officials with his unreliability on a major issue dividing Japan and the United States: the future of a Marine Corps air station in Okinawa. Hatoyama promised Obama twice that he'd solve the issue. According to a long-standing agreement with Japan, the Futenma air base is supposed to be moved to an isolated part of Okinawa. (It now sits in the middle of a city of more than 80,000.)
But Hatoyama's party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said it wanted to reexamine the agreement and to propose a different plan. It is supposed to do that by May. So far, nothing has come in over the transom. Uh, Yukio, you're supposed to be an ally, remember? Saved you countless billions with that expensive U.S. nuclear umbrella? Still buy Toyotas and such?
Meanwhile, who did give Hatoyama some love at the nuclear summit? Hu did. Yes, China's president met privately with the Japanese prime minister on Monday.