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22 March 2016


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Good call!


Did he try to embrace Obama though?

FB Ali

The protocol followed by the Cubans was probably a 'reciprocal' one. The President of the United States does not receive visiting Heads of State at the airport; they are welcomed by him at a ceremony at the White House.

This was not always the US practice - there is still a video going around of the visit (in 1961) of President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and his reception at Andrews AF Base by President Kennedy, his wife and the entire US government.

Tempora mutantur!

Ishmael Zechariah

An arcane bit of Turkish history:
In may of 1932 Ismet Inonu, the Turkish prime Minister traveled to Italy on a state visit. He was traveling by ship to Brindisi and then by (special) train to Rome. His itinerary showed that he would be greeted at the Rome Central Train Station by Mr. Mussolini, then prime minister of Italy. During the trip the Italian Government informs Ismet Pasha that Mussolini has changed his plans and would greet him at the Prime Ministers Building. Ismet Pasha cables Ankara and asks what he should do. Kemal Ataturk cables back, telling him that he should return back with the same train if this were to be the case. The Italians are informed, and Mr. Mussolini and his secretary of state, Grandi, meet Ismet Pasha at the Rome Station.
M. Kemal and Ismet Pashas were soldiers and statesmen. Unfortunately for us, the islamic footpads "running" Turkey today are not. Dignity and honor are foreign words to these folks and their western allies.
As for Obama, perhaps he should have known better.

Ishmael Zechariah
(reference: http://www.kitapbiti.com/ismet-pasanin-italya-seyahati/ in Turkish).


No comment on the welcome, but it strikes me that Raul Castro prevented POTUS from treating him like a child. Respect works both ways.


Agree, Pat!

I think the MSM had a real romance going on with the prospect of a 'kinder, gentler' Cuba. Making nice noises about Pope Frank. Smiling for the cameras. And then they asked Raul about political prisoners and he did his best Spanish Kim Jong-Il impression.

Me thinks they aren't really good at the whole diplomacy 'big picture' thing and they are absolutely not going to apologize for all the crap they've done in the past decades.

Viva la Revolucion Cuba!

Farmer Don

The Americans have been squeezing the Cubans for half a century trying to make them dance to the Yankee tune and have had little success.

Now when Obama, for what ever reason, says he wants to play nice, you are amazed that they don't immediately prostrate themselves and kiss the golden ring?

50 years of animosity does not disappear overnight


Obama doesn't really take his responsibility as POTUS seriously.
He obviously doesn't respect the office and thus is indifferent to insults to the office.

Babak Makkinejad

I think Raoul Castro received him in the morning at the Palace of Revolution. The Sunday part of his trip, I think, was considered private.

Kyle Pearson

Yah - Obama went in for the customary abrazo, and Castro stopped him from it.

I would reckon that Castro would have met him at the airport, had Obama managed to lift the embargo.

Kyle Pearson

>>>And then they asked Raul about political prisoners and he did his best Spanish Kim Jong-Il impression.

Funny how they never ask Obama about political prisoners.

I reckon that's mainly because they want to spare the US president of being cynically compared to Kim Jong-Il.


soon this won't matter. the Cuban old guard will be dead.

The Twisted Genius

I'm with Brigadier Ali on this one. It is not customary for the President of the US to meet a visiting head of state at the airport. Obama did meet Pope Francis at the airport and that was considered an unusual honor. Castro did the same when Pope Francis last passed through Havana. It seems the rules of protocol are flexible. In this case, I don't think an insult was intended or perceived.



"A State Arrival Ceremony is a ceremony in which a foreign head of state or head of government is formally welcomed to the United States. It takes place on the South Lawn of the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. "

President Putin was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,

Pope Francis was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,

Chavez was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,

Ortega, was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,

President Xi was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM,

Even back in the day, Krushchiev was greeted at the airport, by the Cuban FM.

So, how is Obama being greeted at the airport by the Cuban FM, an "insult"?


I doubt your take on protocol is accurate. I was in Farnborough when the Clintons arrived - Airforce 1 + a C5. The Queen certainly didn't greet him (I doubt she ever does that). In fact IIRC there was no ministerial level type there, just some Foreign Office flunky. Maybe summits are different to state visits.

And does the POTUS really go to airport whenever some head of state arrives in DC?


The embrace attempt was a bit risque and that whole scene was awkward. According to this guy Kevin Casas-Zamora on AJ the Cubans acting cheeky is due to internal pressures to not bow to the US for the reasons Farmer Don was pointing out. Apparently, previous administrations' attempts at detente were stumped by these antiques, but Obama is going to take all they can throw at him in order to seal the deal and crown his term with some historical achievement.

William R. Cumming

Fidel turns 90 this year. Raul 84. Hispanics in the U.S.A. are all colours from white to black. Most Cuban-Americans pass for white culturally in the U.S.A. Question? President Obama half white and half black. Given the current context of racial politics in the U.S. what is the liklihood that the roughly 60% of Cuba's population culturally black if in the U.S. what is the chance that population will not be exploited by the U.S. in its attitudes towards Cuba post the Castro brothers?


Does Obama appreciate diplomatic niceties? There are also protocols for diplomatic gifts. I think Obama returned the bust of Churchill which a previous President had been given, and gave a pile of DVD's as a diplomatic gift to Britain. His Secretary of State was hardly following the best traditions of courtesy and diplomacy when she gave the Russian Foreign Minister a cheap piece of plastic bearing the wrong Russian word, and her behavior was ungracious when he pointed out the error.



Queen Elizabeth is the sovereign. A president, any president, is not a sovereign. If a European king or queen (a sovereign) arrived in London for a state visit I would be surprised if the queen did not go to the airport. pl


I don't think the Queen actually greets visiting Heads of State at the airport. TV always shows her greeting them at a state banquet.
'The visiting head of state is immediately greeted upon arrival by the host (or by a lesser official representative, if the two heads of state are to meet later at another location) and by his or her ambassador (or other head of mission) accredited to the host country.'



Some heads of state are sovereigns and others are not. The queen is both. POTUS is not. Complicating this "discussion" is the obvious fact that she is a very old lady. I ask you, if the King of Spain arrives in England for a state visit, not a private visit, but a state visit, who would meet him at the point of arrival? Now, I take the point that POTUS does not helicopter out to Andrews to meet many heads of state. Well, maybe he/she should do so. Of course there is a matter of scale to consider. Should the president of Ecuador be greeted in the same way as the president of China? Are Chihuahuas and Great Danes really equally "Dog?" pl

Babak Makkinejad

"Are Chihuahuas and Great Danes really equally "Dog?"

Yes, they are - on paper and by convention - per the doctrines of Peace of Westphalia, UN Charter and Sovereignty.

And thus the countries such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea - where cannibals used to roam free until almost a hundred years ago, are to be treated on the same par as England or Italy or Japan.

On the other hand, while such countries as those in the Pacific are not "social equals" of many other states, how else one can treat them but with what passes as "international decorum"?

Decorum is a Heavenly Crown,
Put it on your head, go wherever you want.



So, you would opt for POTUS to greet all heads of state at arrival for official visits? pl

Babak Makkinejad

It is not my place to prescribe a specific protocol for US or any other country.

I recall comments I read by the Shah's wife, Farah, to him - something to the effect that why cannot be more informal like King Hussein's court.

My point is that it is best to treat everyone as though they are coming from the most important country in the world.

Just like my advise to any individual would be to treat others as thought they interlocutor is the richest or most famous person in the world.

Politeness is needed as a lubricant of social intercourse among individuals or states.



Thank you and that is why I think that it is of no importance whether you like someone or not. The Cubans need the US a hell of a lot more than the US needs Cuba and IMO it would have been prudent and courteous for Raul Castro to meet Obama at the airport. Chihuahuas and Great Danes are both dogs but we all know that they are not equal. Castro knows that very well. pl

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