Obama's Asia Trip: The Deference Debate

In foreign policy, does making nice lead to making progress?

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Emperor Akihito greets Obama at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Let it be known without apology: Barack Obama is not above the bow. He dipped his head all through Asia — greeting Japan's Emperor with a deep bend at the waist, nodding to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on a Beijing tarmac, even bobbing forward in gratitude before his tour guide at the Courtyard of Loyal Obedience in the Forbidden City.

Back in the U.S., the President's many political foes leaped on the gesture as a symbol of submission. "It's not appropriate," chided conservative pundit William Kristol on Fox News. "A...

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