While China's president Xi was busy dancing on the grave of TPP and rolling out its own regional free-trade alternative during the APEC summit in Peru, Obama was just as busy defending his vanishing legacy to an international audience for the last time. He was even busier projecting his denial before the entire world. As AFP reports, after the APEC summit closed on Sunday, Obama insisted that the 12-nation trans-Pacific deal, a key part of his now failed "pivot" to Asia, was far from dead and those involved still wanted to move forward with the United States.
Actually, no, it's dead, but what is very much alive was Obama's sudden realization that the policies he had been pushing for 8 years have led to a "globallized" world that has never been more splintered and where the wealth trickled-up, crushing the middle class just as the "fringe blogs" warned would happen:
The president also sought to answer rising concerns about globalization, saying that "historic gains in prosperity" had not been evenly distributed and there was a growing gap between rich and poor.
"That can reverberate through our politics," he said. "That's why I firmly believe one of our greatest challenges in the years ahead across our nations and within them will be to make sure that the benefits of the global economy are shared by more people."
No Barack, it will not be your challenge. You are now out, leaving behind just a fake - and fading - facade of a recovery narrative built upon $15 trillion in global central bank liquidity, meant to prop up stock markets to all time highs even as a violent protest movement against your policies resulted in the biggest political shock of a generation... that and an all too real $20 trillion in government debt.
There is one way your departure will be missed, however: by exiting the global political arena, you will also deprive the world of what may have been the best photo ops ever: those between the departing US president, and the remaining Russian one.
Today, we witnessed one final such historic event, when in what is likely to be their last in-person meeting before Obama leaves office, the US president and his Russian counterpart Putin "spoke for around about four minutes" on Sunday at the APEC summit.
As Reuters recounts their final meeting, the two men met at the start of the summit meeting in Lima, Peru's capital. They exchanged pleasantries and remained standing as they spoke.
What was said was irrelevant, but goes along the following lines (according to Reuters): "the president urged President Putin to uphold Russia's commitments under the Minsk agreements, underscoring the U.S. and our partners' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty," a White House official said. Obama also emphasized the need for their two countries' foreign ministers "to continue pursuing initiatives, together with the broader international community, to diminish the violence and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people."
After their brief talk, Obama greeted others at the meeting before sitting down.
It is unclear if Putin laughed before or after Obama was done dispensing "advice." He did, however, shake Obama's hand for the last time, as the following two historic, and sublimely captionable, photos reveal.
We leave it up to readers to decide what may have been on either leader's mind in this moment which distilled and sublimated the past 8 years of global history into just one second.