The Washington Post

This one photo shows how humiliating the government shutdown is for the United States

The most powerful and richest country in the world? Look to the upper right-hand corner. ( Dita Alangkara/AP)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, is one of the most important trade meetings of the year. It's especially important to the United States, which believes that selling products and services to the fast-growing countries of this region is critical to the future. President Obama has been calling for a "pivot" to Asia, reorienting U.S. foreign policy to focus on this key part of the world.

If there wasn't a government shutdown, Obama would be at the center of this photo, probably standing somewhere out front between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia  (seventh from the right) and Xi Jinping of China (eighth from the left). But the American president's trip was canceled because of the government shutdown.

So with all due respect to the purple-clad Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States of America, the richest country in the world, has been relegated to the upper right edge of this picture. It's reasonable to think that the United States isn't at the center of trade talks, either, and that China's and Russia's influence is all the stronger.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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