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Author Topic: Europe Promises Cheers For Obama - And Little Else  (Read 1098 times)
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« on: July 11, 2008, 05:51:03 AM »

Barack Obama is coming: Europe can scarcely contain itself. The Democratic contender for the White House is crossing the Atlantic to burnish his credentials as a world leader. Europeans just want to cheer.

by Phillip Stevens (FT)
July 10, 2008

I have my doubts as to whether Mr Obama will profit much from a series of photo-opportunities with the old continent’s tired and beleaguered leaders. The Middle East leg of his trip may make more news at home. The crowds in Europe will be another story. When he steps out of his pre-presidential limousine Mr Obama can expect to be greeted as a messiah.

As far as Europe is concerned, the US has made its choice. The pundits in Washington may only now be speculating about the possibility that Mr Obama could win by a landslide. Europe has already decided: it will get the American president it deserves. The ballot on November 4 is no more than an irksome formality.

Europeans are almost jealous. After all, when did they last get to cast a vote in a “transformational election”? Even those whose sympathies are with the Republican John McCain are caught up in Obamamania. My bet is that David Cameron, Britain’s Conservative leader, will be as eager as Prime Minister Gordon Brown to catch some of Mr Obama’s stardust.

Only Carla Bruni, partner and chanteuse to France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, can compete in the glamour stakes. The other day an old friend – by day a level-headed diplomat – went so far as to muse about an Obama-Bruni match. Now that, he remarked only half-whimsically, would give global politics a truly handsome couple. Mr Sarkozy, I suppose, might have something to say on the subject. So, one imagines, might Michelle Obama. But watch the body language when her husband turns up at the Elysée Palace.

Youth and charisma are not the only reason Senator Obama stirs envy among Europe’s leaders. He has done what they can only dream of. He has drawn the disenchanted back into politics. Who else has inspired a new political movement, has raised an army of 1.7m volunteers and can boast more than 1m campaign donors?

Little wonder Mr Sarkozy, Mr Brown and Germany’s Angela Merkel are keen to touch Mr Obama’s sleeve. Unsurprising also that Ms Merkel is reluctant to give him a podium at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. It was there Ronald Reagan issued a famous call for the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall”. Mr Obama would draw a crowd to shame the former president – and, more importantly, any serving European leader.

Sober voices struggle to be heard. This week I heard Bruce Katz, a vice-president of Washington’s Brookings Institution, lead an excellent discussion on the future of US politics. Inter alia, Mr Katz’s presentation underscored the gap between the preoccupation of US voters with domestic issues – the economy, energy prices, jobs, healthcare, the state of the cities – and the casual assumption of Europeans that the election is about nothing but US foreign policy.

I suspect that his caution – the election, he told the Smith Institute in London, is a competitive race – was lost on his audience. The thought that resonated was that the outcome would turn on the voters’ judgment of whether Mr Obama had the character to match the charisma. On this pivotal issue, Europeans have already made up their minds: Mr Obama is the real thing.

During George W. Bush’s presidency anti-Americanism has been rife. The old affection, though, has not been extinguished. Nor has the ingrained admiration for American ideals. Mr Obama provides a reason to swap the jeers for applause.

Deep in European foreign ministries, of course, there are hard-bitten diplomats cautioning against all this euphoria. The new president, whether Mr Obama or Mr McCain, will face the same problems. He will put the US national interest first. And the leader of what is still the world’s most powerful nation will never think like a woolly postmodern European.

Mr Obama plans to visit Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel as well as Europe’s three biggest capitals. He will see for himself, these diplomats say, the intractability of the challenges. It is not enough that he is an engaging fellow; and, of itself, engagement will not persuade Iran to surrender its nuclear ambitions.

I think these diplomats are overly pessimistic about Mr Obama’s ambition to change the rules of the game. Those in Europe’s corridors of power have grown so used to timorous politicians that they have forgotten the power of politics.

But you can see the dangers for the Democratic candidate. Adulation comes with a price tag. If he does win in November – and this columnist, at least, is sticking with the conditional – then expectations in Europe may well be even higher than at home.

I have written before about the contradiction in Europe’s view: a demand for US power and a deep distrust of it. Thus on the one hand there is a certain satisfaction that the debacle in Iraq has demonstrated the limits of Washington’s reach. America may still be the sole superpower but it is no longer the hyperpuissance. It must rely on others (Europeans) if it is to act effectively in the world.

On the other hand, there is an assumption that it is still America’s job to fix things. Why should Europe spend more on defence when the US has more ships and warplanes than the rest of the world put together? Of course, Europe shelters under the US security umbrella. But do not ask it to risk too much of its own blood and treasure in the effort to make the world a safer place.

I exaggerate only slightly. Everywhere I go in Europe, I come across laundry lists of demands on the next US president – whether it is Mr Obama or Mr McCain.

The US must embrace a low-carbon economy as a prelude to signing up to a successor to the Kyoto protocol. It must show due respect to the United Nations as the fount of legitimacy in relations between states. It should join the International Criminal Court and commit itself more fully to the chemical weapons convention. It should breathe new life into the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Oh, and by the way, it must broker peace in the Middle East, leave Iraq a peaceful democracy and make a viable state out of Afghanistan.

It is worth saying that many of the suggested policy shifts are in US as well as European interests. The central foreign policy task of the next president will be to rebuild the legitimacy of US leadership. But as they cheer Mr Obama, Europeans need to make up their minds about what they have to offer.
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2008, 06:24:11 AM »

I think one of the reasons certain European leaders are excited about Obama is that he may take the US more in the direction of European nations...with more gov control and more socialistic flavor, which eventually makes countries except mediocrity.
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2008, 11:38:32 AM »

I think one of the reasons certain European leaders are excited about Obama is that he may take the US more in the direction of European nations...with more gov control and more socialistic flavor, which eventually makes countries except mediocrity.

I diasgree strongly. It is sheer foreign policy, if you read the interviews, talk the people etc that is what they say. The perpetual war, the interference, the deaths etc.
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2008, 11:53:38 AM »

I think one of the reasons certain European leaders are excited about Obama is that he may take the US more in the direction of European nations...with more gov control and more socialistic flavor, which eventually makes countries except mediocrity.

I agree, now turn you air conditioner up to 78, that's an order from Obama.
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2008, 12:28:49 PM »

...

I have my doubts as to whether Mr Obama will profit much from a series of photo-opportunities with the old continent’s tired and beleaguered leaders. ...

Sounds like a perfect description of John Mc Cain.  Shocked
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2008, 07:04:58 PM »

I agree, now turn you air conditioner up to 78, that's an order from Obama.

Es mui caliente en mi casa!
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2008, 07:26:23 PM »

Es mui caliente en mi casa!

You do live in a swamp.
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2008, 07:40:18 PM »

You do live in a swamp.

Si Senior.  Mis agua es verde.
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2008, 10:20:11 PM »

Sounds like a perfect description of John Mc Cain.  Shocked

Welcome back, AE.

Sorry your girl, Hillary, didn't make the cut.

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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 04:42:00 AM »

I think one of the reasons certain European leaders are excited about Obama is that he may take the US more in the direction of European nations...with more gov control and more socialistic flavor, which eventually makes countries except mediocrity.

I think you meant to say "accept mediocrity", although... why would you say something like that? What is mediocre about Wester Europe?
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2008, 07:11:39 AM »

I agree, now turn you air conditioner up to 78, that's an order from Obama.

well in bushes world the economy sucks so bad that u cant afford to keep it at 60..


what sometimes i simply take absolute glee in is tha fact that most suffering of this shit economy are the middle classes that voted bush in....poetic justice! Grin

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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2008, 07:24:38 AM »

European will have an easier time influencing the US to implement the "slow communism" that is in the EU today (AKA socialism).
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2008, 07:35:42 AM »

European will have an easier time influencing the US to implement the "slow communism" that is in the EU today (AKA socialism).

Being an ideologue is always dangerous; there is some truth in many politcal systems; look at Scandinavia; it is BOTH socialist and capitalist.
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2008, 07:47:14 AM »

Being an ideologue is always dangerous; there is some truth in many politcal systems; look at Scandinavia; it is BOTH socialist and capitalist.

Give it 10 years, my prediction is Scandinavia is heading to the social decay seen in UK and France.
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2008, 08:12:33 AM »

Give it 10 years, my prediction is Scandinavia is heading to the social decay seen in UK and France.

What's the solution?
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2008, 08:22:43 AM »

But it's not even about influencing us in any manner. I think that the way Europeans see the US nowadays is a country whose government has run amock and with whom they cannot, unless you're Lithuania or Belarus (you know sort-a-countries,) negotiate.

I agree with how Europeans see things: Give power to the UN and if there's a conflict between countries let consensus reign and come to a decision that satisfies the majority of the countries and is accepted by both sides. Although that is a very difficult thing to do when you have the most powerful country in the world conducting its foreign policy with state terrorism and little regard for (other) human life.

For our government the Charter of the United Nations is an obstacle primarily because our government values money more than it values human life.

My 2 cents.
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2008, 08:28:01 AM »

Give it 10 years, my prediction is Scandinavia is heading to the social decay seen in UK and France.

What social decay are you referring to?
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2008, 08:29:04 AM »

What's the solution?

My influence from the voters, for example, in Britain it's high time for there to be a general election - EVERY citizen wants a general election but fat bastard Gordon Brown won't call one.

General elections every 2 year maximum.

More influence on other matters to do with the EU, e.g. the Lisbon treaty, it was promised to British citizens we would get to vote, that was stolen from us by the Labour government, we had to let the Irish bail us out for fucks sake...

Plus more shit like this: http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=223644.0
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2008, 08:30:06 AM »

What social decay are you referring to?

Practically uncontrolled immigration, political correctness, welfare states, not enough say by the citizens of the EU.
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2008, 08:33:19 AM »

Practically uncontrolled immigration, political correctness, welfare states, not enough say by the citizens of the EU.

Sounds like they are just trying to emulate the USA.  Grin Undecided
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2008, 08:35:03 AM »

Sounds like they are just trying to emulate the USA.  Grin Undecided

Isn't there a 4 year tern around for elections in the USA? Britain doesn't even have that. It's sickening to think the controlling party has say on when an election is called.

British system = a strange mix of democracy, communism, socialism, fascism.
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« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2008, 08:36:01 AM »

Give it 10 years, my prediction is Scandinavia is heading to the social decay seen in UK and France.

But you are the Nordic Superman, you must be able to save Scandinavia right?  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2008, 08:37:58 AM »

Welcome back, AE.

Sorry your girl, Hillary, didn't make the cut.

Thanks w8tlftr. It is a shame, on the other hand she will probably be senate majority leader in a few years.  Wink
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2008, 08:41:11 AM »

Isn't there a 4 year tern around for elections in the USA? Britain doesn't even have that. It's sickening to think the controlling party has say on when an election is called.

British system = a strange mix of democracy, communism, socialism, fascism.

An election doesn't guarantee improvement. Never underestimate the stupidity of the voter.
George Bush reelected in 2004. Need I say more?
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« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2008, 08:42:53 AM »

But you are the Nordic Superman, you must be able to save Scandinavia right?  Roll Eyes

Yeah, I will do when the time calls, until then, the people must see the errors of their way.

An election doesn't guarantee improvement. Never underestimate the stupidity of the voter.
George Bush reelected in 2004. Need I say more?

Frivolous, I'm a staunch believer in democracy. You think everything would be hunky dory if Bush hadn't been elected? We shall never know.
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الاسلام هو شيطانية
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