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China's Insult and Obama's Climate Kowtow

President Obama took office in 2009 promising that his brand of engagement would yield global respect for the United States. We've since had more than seven years of leading from behind, standing "shoulder to shoulder" with the "international community," snubbing of allies, appeasing of enemies and cutting America down to size. As Obama makes what will likely be his final official visit to China, how's it going?

Well, China, as host of the current G-20 summit, rolled out the red carpet -- or at least the red-carpeted airplane stairs -- for the arriving leaders of such countries as Britain, Australia, Germany and Russia.

For President Obama, arriving yesterday on Air Force One, there was no such dignified reception. Instead, there was a shoving match with the press and a confrontation with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, in which a Chinese official shouted "This is our country. This is our airport." For lack of any portable stairs rolled to the front door of the presidential plane, Obama was left to jog down the aircraft's own stairs at the back.

Obama downplayed the insult, telling reporters "not to over-crank the significance."

Maybe that makes sense in the bubble-world of the Ben-Rhodes-foreign-policy narrative, where the tide of war is forever receding, the arc of history bends toward justice, the oceans rise and fall at the command of Obama's pen and phone, and the echo chamber, on cue, applauds.

But China's reception was an insult, pure and simple. No one need study the tea leaves to understand that this was a gesture of gross disrespect, seen around the world, putting the American president in his place -- especially as compared with the warm reception for Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

While the missing red-carpeted staircase is mainly symbolic, the realities behind it are increasingly dangerous. Among them are China's territorial grabs at sea, provocations toward the U.S. Navy, cyber attacks, military exercises with Russia and evident tolerance  -- despite United Nations sanctions -- of illicit traffic that enables North Korea's continuing nuclear missile program.

For Obama, however, the evident priority in China was to sign on to the Paris climate accord, shoulder-to-shoulder with China's President Xi Jinping. Bundling together the rising threats to the U.S. under the oddly collegial phrase "for all the challenges we face," Obama in remarks from China went on to celebrate his submission to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, jointly with Xi, of the documents required to formally enter into the Paris Agreement.

According to Obama, this climate deal could be a "turning point for our planet," a grand legacy of a presidency in which he made it his mission "to make sure that America does its part to protect this planet for future generations."

Really? The ironies here are off the charts. As PJ Media's Rick Moran points out, China dealt with the Paris Agreement as a treaty -- which it clearly is -- and at least went through the motions of getting approval from a rubber-stamp legislature. Obama, faced with a genuinely elected legislature in which the Senate would almost certainly have rejected the Paris Agreement, decided to handle this erstwhile planetary "turning point" as a mere embellishment on a previous treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 1994.

So the "ratification" document Obama brought with him to China was the product of one of his pen-and-phone executive actions, offering to the UN secretary-general a commitment Obama was not entitled to make, and which American voters had never agreed to.