What Obama's Phone Calls Reveal

He's been talking a lot, but mostly to allies
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2014 3:17 AM CDT
President Obama speaks on the phone in the Oval Office.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – As international crises pile up, President Obama has been spending a lot of time on the phone: White House records show that the president has made more calls to world leaders this month than in any other month except November 2012, when he was returning calls of congratulations on his re-election. A USA Today analysis of publicly disclosed phone records since 2009 finds that Obama has largely been speaking to allies, with the leaders of the UK, Germany, Israel, France, and Turkey the most likely to receive presidential phone calls. The White House won't say how many calls to leaders are undisclosed.

The analysis also finds that VP Joe Biden has been making a lot of calls to world leaders and appears to have been given responsibility for talking to the leaders of Iraq, Ukraine, and, recently, Turkey. Analysts warn that despite the volume of calls, telephone diplomacy has its limits. "I don't want to knock Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the telephone, but as a diplomatic historian, I have to tell you, it creates lots and lots and lots of difficulties," an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says, warning that leader-to-leader calls are not a strong "substitute for real diplomacy or real diplomatic interaction." The president's most recent diplomatic call was a rare conference call with the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. The call yielded an agreement to adopt new economic sanctions against Russia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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