Foreign Policy: Why Is Obama So Bad With Dates?

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Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan i i

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, left, are seen during an official welcoming ceremony for Erdogan, at the presidency in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009. Vahid Salemi/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Vahid Salemi/AP
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, left, are seen during an official welcoming ceremony for Erdogan, at the presidency in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009.

Vahid Salemi/AP

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently in Tehran with his "friend," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the two leaders discuss ways to bolster the bilateral ties between their two countries. While Turkey's realignment towards Iran and Syria is by now familiar, it is possible that the Obama administration might be more annoyed at this development than it has let on publicly.

Obama recently sent an invitation to Prime Minister Erdogan to meet with him in Washington D.C. on October 29. That just happens to be the Turkish equivalent of the Fourth of July — the anniversary of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Turkish republic. Erdogan, placed in a bind over the need to be in Turkey on this national holiday, was forced to turn down Obama's invitation and reschedule, likely for a date in December.

This seems like a canny way for Obama to superficially appear to be continuing his philosophy of "engagement," while at the same time extending an invitation that he knew Erdogan would not be able to accept. And really, it's hard to believe that a prospective visit by the Turkish leader wasn't first cleared with a Turkey expert at the State Department, who could have pointed out the obvious conflict.

However, it could just be that the administration is bad with dates. It wouldn't be the first time: remember, Obama announced the US decision to abandon its missile defense plans in Eastern Europe on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

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