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European - American relations

Saint MadnessSaint Madness Registered User
edited November 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Gavin Hewitt, the BBCs european editor just posted this piece in his blog.
Almost a year ago I stood in Chicago and watched a tidal wave of celebration cascade through Grant Park as the screens flashed up an Obama victory. An African-American had defied the weight of history and had become the most powerful man in the world.

It was not just an American night, it was a global event. I met young Brits and Europeans who had made the journey to say they were there the night America changed. I got texts from far-flung places with just three words: "Yes we can".

On that night it was easy to dream, but looking back at my report I wrote this:

"Briefly, he (Obama) stood alone between the bullet-proof panels; a foretaste of the loneliness of power; the certainty that the burden of expectations will be impossible to meet. So history turns. The torch passed last night to a man of high ideals who will face daunting challenges from his very first day in the White House."

Europe had got the president it wanted. Earlier I had watched 200,000 people turn out for Obama in Berlin. He was only a candidate, not even the nominee. The crowd yearned for a Kennedy moment with a young politician full of energy and high-ideals.

Tomorrow in Washington there is a summit between the Obama administration and the European Union. German Chancellor Merkel will address both houses of congress.

The love affair with Obama was always one-sided. Europeans wanted Obama; he
was less certain what Europe offered him.

For some Europeans the Bush years had been brutal. There was the snide reference to "old Europe" when there was a reluctance to support the Iraq invasion. Some Americans wanted to take the "French" out of fries. And then there was the New York paper that replaced the faces of the French and German foreign ministers with that of weasels. A spineless Security Council was branded the "council of weasels". Europe felt marginalised as America rode off alone to settle scores and fashion the world to its own design.

Obama, however, made Europeans feel included once again. He offered the hand of partnership. He signed up to multilateralism. It was only 11 days after he came into office that the Nobel Committee nominated him for the peace prize.

But as Obama's first year unfolded, old difficulties began to re-emerge.

Europe liked the early commitment to close Guantanamo Bay, although it remains in business.

It applauded the decision of the Obama administration to re-engage with Iran although uncertainty remains to what the new policy will deliver and whether Iran will send its stockpiles of uranium out of the country.

In the Middle East, Europe had wanted Obama to throw his prestige behind
peace talks but progress remains glacial and the administration has said that talks should not hinge on freezing Israeli settlements. Many European countries would
prefer Washington to take a tougher line with the Israelis.

On climate change, Europe prided itself that it was leading the world to get a deal in Copenhagen. At breakfast last week I heard a senior European official say: "We urged President Obama to show leadership... and he promised to make an effort."
The Europeans have put some figures on the table as to the cost of fighting climate change but they have essentially fudged what they individually would stump up.
The reality is that in Washington climate change gets second billing to healthcare.
President Obama may not even travel to Copenhagen. One Member of the European Parliament, Joe Leinen, said: "The US is still looking inwards, while Europe is looking outwards." Old complaints are re-surfacing.

The key area of common interest is Afghanistan. After long being chided for unwillingness to commit forces the Europeans have over 30,000 troops in the country.
Yet Europe is essentially waiting on Obama to conclude his brain-storming sessions with his advisers. The fact remains that Europe has virtually no say in strategy.

A revealing analysis published today by the European Council on Foreign Relations goes straight to the point and asks whether Europe has wasted its Obama moment. It says that Europe got the President it wanted but Washington remains enormously frustrated with Europe to speak with clarity and conviction. "Washington is disappointed with Europe," it says, "and sees EU member states as infantile: responsibility shirking and attention."

The writers challenge Europe to develop their own strategy for Russia, for the Middle East, for Afghanistan if they want to be taken seriously.

And here's the dilemma. The European Union is focused on its new jobs, the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. To the apocryphal Henry Kissinger complaint that he did not know who to call in Europe, a senior official said last week that, in future, the call would be taken by the High Representative. But he or she can only reflect the views of the member states.

So there may be a new and popular president in the White House and Europe has not fallen out of affection with him but Obama, as presidents before him, finds Europe an uncertain partner. Whatever the institutional changes, Europe runs up against the old problem; the more they seek to speak with clarity, the more they risk diminishing the influence of the member states.


I think the article raises a number of good points and I'm curious to know the opinions of the people on this board regarding the relationship between America and Europe both as it stands now and how it will turn out in future. I know that we reached a pretty low point during the Bush Administration when France and Germany refused to support the war in Iraq and I can attest to the hype that surrounded Obama's election to office last year and suddenly we all loved the US again. However the EU is currently undergoing reform that will strengthen it as a federal body and it will be interesting to see how that affects the relationship between the two powers.

So, thoughts?

Saint Madness on

Posts

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    How good are relations these days? Can American tourists stop pretending to be Canadians yet?

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • FiarynFiaryn Omnicidal Madman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    When I was in Spain a year or so ago we didn't really get any of the usual "YOU ARE SOMEHOW RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING BUSH DOES" shit. Yay Spain.

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  • SpeakerSpeaker Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    For some Europeans the Bush years had been brutal. There was the snide reference to "old Europe" when there was a reluctance to support the Iraq invasion. Some Americans wanted to take the "French" out of fries. And then there was the New York paper that replaced the faces of the French and German foreign ministers with that of weasels. A spineless Security Council was branded the "council of weasels". Europe felt marginalised as America rode off alone to settle scores and fashion the world to its own design.

    *snort*

    Who is this guy? And more importantly how did he survive such a harrowing emotional holocaust?

    I guess I take his point about structural problems getting between American and European governments.

    But then it's just back into a trough of self pity about not being able to partner properly with our shining black god king.

    Jesus what a horrible piece of writing to commit against the innocence of a blank page.

    Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
    Walkers with the sun and morning, we are not afraid of night,
    Nor days of gloom, nor darkness -
    Being walkers with the sun and morning.
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Effectively the complaint is, as it is in all pro obama circles...

    "Bush has fucked up so much stuff, that we're pissed that Obama can't fix it all at once while the Republicans do all in their power to throw wrenches in the works and destroy everything that the US has built"

    Seriously, you want to get pissed at someone, get pissed at the republicans. They are the ones deliberately doing everything they can to slow Obamas agenda and force him to expend political capitol on tiny issues.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    There are some legitimate complaints to be had, because Obama really has been falling somewhat short of his earlier positions on foreign policy, the area where there's the least basis to complain about obstructionism and shift the burden. That being said, the piece was one of the ... whiniest, for lack of a better term, I've seen out of European press quite possibly ever. Objectively, you know there press has to be as shitty as ours at least part of teh time, but you so rarely get to see it first hand.

  • HenroidHenroid Gibberish Cold white sand!Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Just goes to show you that people put too much exclusive power in the president's hands, forgetting we have a fucking system to work with.

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  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    werehippy wrote: »
    There are some legitimate complaints to be had, because Obama really has been falling somewhat short of his earlier positions on foreign policy, the area where there's the least basis to complain about obstructionism and shift the burden. That being said, the piece was one of the ... whiniest, for lack of a better term, I've seen out of European press quite possibly ever. Objectively, you know there press has to be as shitty as ours at least part of teh time, but you so rarely get to see it first hand.

    Oh, its not quite fox news bad, but it can be bad.

    Still, while there isn't true 'opposition' on foreign policy Obama knows that if he say, makes a big commitment to the peace process and says Israel must behave responsibly that he will use up political capitol which he needs to pass healthcare reform and other issues of home importance.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    tbloxham wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »
    There are some legitimate complaints to be had, because Obama really has been falling somewhat short of his earlier positions on foreign policy, the area where there's the least basis to complain about obstructionism and shift the burden. That being said, the piece was one of the ... whiniest, for lack of a better term, I've seen out of European press quite possibly ever. Objectively, you know there press has to be as shitty as ours at least part of teh time, but you so rarely get to see it first hand.

    Oh, its not quite fox news bad, but it can be bad.

    Still, while there isn't true 'opposition' on foreign policy Obama knows that if he say, makes a big commitment to the peace process and says Israel must behave responsibly that he will use up political capitol which he needs to pass healthcare reform and other issues of home importance.

    Trust me, I'm well on board the pragmatism bus. But, while I understand that he's picking his fights for the moment, it's not at all unfair to complain about his foreign policy positions to date. He really has drawn back on all or most of his former positions, and given Europe pretty much only gives a shit about that arena as far as we're concerned, they do have some legitimate cause for complaint.

  • GothicLargoGothicLargo Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Seriously, you want to get pissed at someone, get pissed at the republicans. They are the ones deliberately doing everything they can to slow Obamas agenda and force him to expend political capitol on tiny issues.

    Almost truth.

    The congressional Republicans are doing whatever they can to stall until the midterm elections.

    The congressional Democrats are playing along. If the democrats voted as a single block and used reconciliation*, they could pass anything. ANYTHING. They have that power right now. What are they doing with it? Bickering and twiddling their thumbs. Why? Because they're as eggheaded as the republicans are bigoted.

    The Republicans have one quality which endears them over the Democrats. They flog dissenters. The Republican party's grand quest for ideological purity does have its advantages when trying to get something done as a team.

    *A process in the Senate where a simple majority vote can be used to advance legislation by the majority. Its usage is highly controversial and generally avoided if it can be helped. The House has no need of such a mechanism because of their more tightly regimented scheduling and debate procedures.

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  • Tanooki MarioTanooki Mario __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    How good are relations these days? Can American tourists stop pretending to be Canadians yet?

    Depends, are you in France?

    I'm the artist formerly known as Satan.
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    US-Euro relations will always be strained. You're competing economic superpowers fighting over the resources of the world. Also, yanks, stop putting our goddamn flag on your backpacks. You aren't fooling anyone.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Robman wrote: »
    US-Euro relations will always be strained. You're competing economic superpowers fighting over the resources of the world. Also, yanks, stop putting our goddamn flag on your backpacks. You aren't fooling anyone.

    What are y'all talking aboot?

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    canpatch.jpg

    Apparently required equipment for an American backpacking through Europe.

  • LaOsLaOs Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    LaOs wrote: »
    *whoosh*

    Give him a break... he's Canadian.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • LaOsLaOs Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Sentry wrote: »
    LaOs wrote: »
    *whoosh*

    Give him a break... he's Canadian.

    o_O
    <

  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Sentry wrote: »
    LaOs wrote: »
    *whoosh*

    Give him a break... he's Canadian.

    Glenn Beck.

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    LaOs wrote: »
    Sentry wrote: »
    LaOs wrote: »
    *whoosh*

    Give him a break... he's Canadian.

    o_O
    <

    Oh... I'm sorry for your loss. :(

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It can't be too great. The relationship between my sister and her a**hole British ex-boyfriend just ended.

  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    American left-wingers will extol Europe unfairly, American right-wingers will depict Europe unfairly in a negative light.

    Ditto Europe. The result are two political cultures with little contact that naturally distort and simplify the gamuts of both territories.

    I think both continents are pretty sordid, not taking democracy by the horns and limiting it/utilizing it well while too obsessed with faiths of all kinds (including socialism, nationalism, parochialism and other secular faiths) to consider the future like mature adults. I'll stick to Scandinavia, weather be damned.

    Geopolitically, Europe has less of a moral high ground than it would like to admit (even from a modern perspective) and I see little reason as to why any struggles should go beyond the basic, less serious issues. I plain don't like China and Russia. The one thing I'm worried about is that your horribly indulgent and solipsist middle class will commit climatic genocide in order to continue rubbing expensive things against their genitalia as long as they want.

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  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    How good are relations these days? Can American tourists stop pretending to be Canadians yet?

    Depends, are you in France?

    I am.

    It's not that bad anymore. Though I will say people out here just stopped talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just in general. Maybe after 8 years they've moved on?

    Picture1-4.png
  • Tanooki MarioTanooki Mario __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    How good are relations these days? Can American tourists stop pretending to be Canadians yet?

    Depends, are you in France?

    I am.

    It's not that bad anymore. Though I will say people out here just stopped talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just in general. Maybe after 8 years they've moved on?

    Since I've got you here, any villas in the south of France you'd like to part with for pennies on the dollar?

    I'm the artist formerly known as Satan.
  • Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Most Europeans were pretty outraged by the American Imperialism on display in the Iraq invasion. Irrespective of the moral justification or wisdom behind it, most European countries agreed that America was very... globally antisocial in its attitude. Popular opinion in Britain was against it, but it got bullied through by Blair, who if nothing else was a very effective users of Whips.

    I personally think Obama's foreign policy is exceptional, even more so given his comparatively short term. That said, I would like a stronger position on Israel, more decisiveness (though not rash) on Afghanistan now that we know that McFuckface is back in charge, and as that article highlighted, more co-operation with Europe. That said, I will say that until we elect a President of the EU, it's naturally going to be difficult, and we do have problems with people evading responsibility and flock mentality. I'm glad it's not going to be Blair, though.

    I think reading that article as self-pitying is a little bit getting the wrong end of the stick. To me, the editor is simply laying out a brief, undetailed synopsis of the main factors in the US/EU relationship at the minute. I'm not really sure if that can be called self-pitying. He's not even expressing an opinion.

    In terms of Americans abroad, by the way, Obama's election did you a world of good. You're back in good books at the moment.

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  • Tanooki MarioTanooki Mario __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    I have to wonder if Obama's foreign policy of "actually talk to other people" is accomplishing anything or if just that shift itself has led to others liking us better than they did for the majority of this decade.

    Also, Afghanistan. What the fuck, world.

    I'm the artist formerly known as Satan.
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Flippy_D wrote: »
    I think reading that article as self-pitying is a little bit getting the wrong end of the stick. To me, the editor is simply laying out a brief, undetailed synopsis of the main factors in the US/EU relationship at the minute. I'm not really sure if that can be called self-pitying. He's not even expressing an opinion.

    Yeah I don't see why people are criticizing the author (I happen to like Hewitt as a journalist). He says nothing that isn't obvious, and yet its being compared with Fox news? I don't get it.

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  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It's no secret that I don't like Obama and hope he fails in pretty much all of his policies.

    But, that being said, the bar of what was expected of him was so incredibly high, that it was inevitable people would be disappointed.

    It's not a fair criticism of a President to say that he hasn't accomplished every single plank of his platform less than a year into his term.

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  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    "It's no secret that I don't like Obama and hope he fails in pretty much all of his policies."

    Be specific. We are actually all ears, if you can just bother to not use the word 'leftist'. Things aren't automatically bad just because you attach a scary label to them. But not in this thread, I think.

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