This morning I received an email from a noted expert on Southeast Asia. She asked me if I knew of any appointed positions in the Obama Administration's Asia Team that were filled by women.
The basis of her question was that she had been a campaign adviser on Asia as had quite a number of other women she listed who did not get positions in the Administration.
HaHaHa, I replied. The Obama Asia team is no different than the Bush team. I fact, I believe there were actually a few more women working on Asia during the Bush years than now. These women were especially good at toeing the party line and keeping a low profile.
This situation has gone on so long, that it is accepted not to see women interviewed by the press, represented on panel discussions or invited to those private meetings at "onsen and in the mountains at Aspen." And if you are not at the private meetings you do not get noticed, cultivated, and remembered.
Worse, by not attending the meetings you don't get to understand the dialogue of what is acceptable and what is not. Your opinions are not tempered by personal ties or practice. And if you are invited, you learn quickly to agree, to follow and to not stand out. Questioning the senior managers is career-ending.
This past Sunday the Washington Post featured on its Opinion page, Topic A: "Obama in Asia: Foreign policy experts assess the president's trip." The Post asked nine "experts" of which two were women. Only four experts made the print edition of which one was a woman.
Those interviewed were: Michael Auslin, Michael Green, Victor Cha, Danielle Pletka, Douglas E. Schoen, Richard C. Bush, Elizabeth C. Economy, David Shambaugh and Yang Jianli.
No matter, none were particularly supportive of the President. The former Bush Administration officials slammed him for being too accommodating to the Chinese and not focusing enough on trade. Michael Green, seemed bit too condescending, "Obama's trip to Asia should be a wake-up call to the White House about the limits of using the president's biography as foreign policy and the realities of power politics in the Pacific."
Michael Auslin, who appears to the spokesman for the Alliance Managers, summed up their position best, "The optics of the president's trip fulfilled his stated intention of announcing that the United States was "back" in Asia, but the lack of tangible policy results suggest it was a success of style over substance."
The rational voice, was Richard Bush of Brookings who said:
The major goal of this trip was to make the case for multilateral cooperation regarding the pressing challenges of the global economy, climate change, proliferation and Afghanistan-Pakistan. America cannot solve these problems alone. We cannot order others to help us. We cannot seek their help while ignoring their interests or giving disproportionate emphasis to human rights. The president understands this; his critics do not.See, even I did not mention what the women said.