Obama and Europe: Nanny state bedfellows
It has surprised me that the media has shown genuine disbelief to the iconic status Barack Obama has cultivated in Europe and other regions abroad. When one is well received by his contemporaries, observers should simply ask themselves “What’s in it for each party in this union,” and the answer to that question will usually lead you to the underlying motives of both respective parties.
Barack Obama is a “Greenhorn” (as they say on my favorite reality show “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel) and a bonafide rookie to geopolitical strategy, and a substantial percentage of the American electorate are aware of the Illinois Senator’s lack of executive expertise, but guess what? Its irrelevant. In the aftermath of the Bush/Neo-conservative foreign policy, economic failures, corruption charges, wiretaps, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez and the like, and behold the America people are ready to “throw the bums out” and put Senator Obama in the White House.
The international community shares American resentment of the Bush Administration, and undoubtedly want Senator Obama to become the 44th President of the United States of America. Europeans and other “America Haters” believe that the U.S. will be in lock step with their political stroll if Obama can slay John McCain in the November 4th election, and on the surface their hopes seem to be well founded. The European Union shares basic tenets with the potential Obama Administration that demonstrate why their love-fest with Obama has bordered on the excitement of “Beatlemania” ala the 1960s and 70s. The EU supports large sweeping governmental policies, high tax rates, Universal Health care for its citizens, passive foreign policy, and social policies (e.g. gay rights, abortion rights, and invisible national borders), and on most of these issues Barack Obama is the Anakin Skywalker to Europe’s Obi-wan Kenobi.
For their part, most of the international community indulged Senator Obama’s aspirations during his recent trip abroad, and leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown all provided Obama with crucial photo-opportunities which portrayed the Illinois representative as a skilled statesman who will revitalize America’s image abroad with one staged appearance after another. Almost all of these leaders have similarly met with Republican John McCain, but none of them dispelled the widely accepted belief that somehow Obama’s visit was more important and more Presidential that that of the McCain campaign.
Most of the world secretly shares the view that a McCain presidency will be a 4 year extension of the Bush era, and some nation-states genuinely fear that the Arizona Senator will continue to implement the hawkish foreign policy the U.S. has so ineffectively projected during the last 8 years. Despite the hope and security provided by “the surge” policy, the Iraq War is still greatly unpopular abroad, and many EU members are apprehensive to the idea that a McCain Administration will force them to actually address Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons with tougher sanctions or even a possible military strike against the Islamic state. President Obama would most likely give the EU a pass on Iran since the Obama campaign has repeatedly voiced its intentions to negotiate with Iranian leader Mahmoud Admadinejad (with few if any preconditions) and avoid war with the radical Iranian President at all costs.
The United States has traditionally shunned the socialist tendencies of Europe, and has excelled in the international community by forcing its people to rely upon their own will and secure their destiny threw hard work not government handouts and safeguards. America remains the world’s sole superpower because it leads others not because she mindlessly pursues policies that will improve our approval/favorability ratings on the world stage to the detriment of our immediate strategic position. It behooves U.S. Presidents to ignore the popularity contest that has become foreign diplomacy, and take positions that best protect and serve American interests abroad not European ones. And although we share many interests with our Atlantic allies, America would be better served if the next President skillfully recognized where these interests intersect and divide, because if the next Commander-in-Chief fails to address that political reality America may well find itself a very popular but an increasingly weakened member of the European Union.