What the former US President thinks of other world leaders

Friday, November 20th, 2020 00:00 |

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In “A Promised Land,” published on Tuesday, the 44th President is generous to allied leaders but also delivers sharp character sketches of those with whom he shared the world stage.

Vladimir Putin:  White House reporters used to take delight in decoding the body language when Obama met the Russian leader.

His book notes similarities between the former KGB man and political barons in his adopted city of Chicago.

Putin was “like a ward boss, except with nukes and a UN Security Council veto,” Obama writes.

For people like him: “life was a zero-sum game; you might do business with those outside your tribe, but in the end, you couldn’t trust them.”

Benjamin Netanyahu: Obama had a difficult relationship with the Israeli PM who has found Trump much more to his liking.

“Netanyahu could be charming, or at least solicitous,” Obama writes. “But his vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power.”

Hu Jintao: The former President found China’s ex-leader tough going. Obama complains one encounter was a “sleepy affair” and that his attempts to lighten the mood during their interminable meetings usually drew a “blank stare.” Obama was far more impressed with China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao.

Angela Merkel: Obama gazed into the German Chancellor’s eyes, which he recalled as “big and bright blue” and “could be touched by turns with frustration, amusement, or hints of sorrow.”

He found Merkel analytical and confirmed reports she was initially skeptical of his oratory.

“I took no offense, figuring that as a German leader, an aversion to possible demagoguery was probably a healthy thing.”

David Cameron: Obama got on well with the Eton-educated former British Prime Minister, whom he described as having an impressive command of issues, despite disapproving of Cameron’s Tory philosophy of deficit reduction and budget cuts.

The privileged PM had “the breezy confidence of someone who’d never been pressed too hard by life,” he notes.

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