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Europe-bashing has Diminishing Returns

In reporting on the U.S. presidential campaign, it is taken for granted that showing excessive friendliness towards Europe would be damaging for the candidates. They would seem too concerned with the opinion of the world, and not enough with America's security. That downside to touring Europe has also been highlighted by David Francis in his Atlantic Review post 'By Giving a Speech in Berlin, Obama is playing with Fire'.

A spokesman for McCain has tried to capitalise on an expected anti-European sentiment by alleging that Obama was more interested in meeting 'throngs of fawning Germans' than in visiting American troops. If this is a broader campaign strategy, it may well backfire.

On the left-leaning democracyarsenal blog, Michael Cohen ties together the data we have on America's perceptions of European countries, and their perception on the perception of America abroad. This leads him to conclude:
The notion that Americans want their presidents to maintain an arm's distance relationship with our Allies is a canard. There simply is no evidence to support this notion. But due to constant repetition by neo-conservative politicians and various enablers of this Administration it has become conventional wisdom. It's about time we put this silly idea to rest.
Don't let the colour on that distract you from the data. The polling shows that since recently, a majority of Americans perceive the image of America abroad as a major problem, and, a fortiori, the vast majority now have a favourable view of Germany, the UK, and France.

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quo vadis on :

If I thought that the "rock star' treatment of Obama actually reflected a substantive and sustained change in European and world opinion, I would consider it to be a big positive for Obama, but seriously, it can't be THAT easy can it? If you just wanted a return to the pre-Bush days, you couldn't have done any better than Clinton II, but does anyone think she would have gotten the same welcome?

Nanne on :

Clinton would likely have gotten a warm reception, but nowhere near the crowd. The same goes for virtually all possible and impossible alternatives (Edwards, Kucinich, ...). But maybe Al Gore could have drawn a similar crowd had he contended and won the nomination. It's mostly about celebrity, and just a little bit about substance.

SC on :

I may have missed something, but I didn't see that your pollsters controlled for the effects of the elections of Sarkozy and Merkel, both of whom have been portrayed in many places as more "pro-American" than their predecessors. Given this spin, why would anyone be surprised by an increase in polled American responses to questions meant to gauge positive feelings toward either France or Germany? Now, since these polls are being presented in the context of an upcoming election with the implication that they may have something relevant to say, then the nature of the sample population needs to be made clear. The Gallup poll identifies the sample as "adults nationwide". If this is truly describes the sample then while interesting, it's probably of little use to campaigns: Witness the nearly approximately double digit swing in, I believe it was, Gallup's recent tracking polls dependent on whether or not registered voters were sampled or those judged likely to vote among registered voters. Lastly, Mr. Cohen shouldn't get his hopes of a backlash up too high. I've yet to witness a candidate for any national office, in my many decades of watching such things, damaged but suggesting that his or her opponent was bit too "comfortable" with the views expressed by foreign governments or their citizens. The obverse is that neither has any won with a campaign focusing on this. Everyone understands this: McCain and Obama particularly. When raised, it has always been part of a larger strategy to raise questions about a candidates character and judgment. Note that critical coverage of Obama's visit seemed to focus on this. The McCain campaign has made much more noise about Obama's decision not to visit hospitalized troops in Germany and even greater noise about Obama's positions on energy policy and Iraq policy than about his grand tour of Europe or his appeal to the European public.

Nanne on :

I do think that Kerry's talk of a 'global test' hurt him in the 2004 elections (probably not enough to account for his loss, but still). Cohen disagrees with this, pointing to generally favourable views among Americans of European countries back then, and the fact that exit pollsters didn't ask the question. But these views then were less favourable towards France and Germany. And I've seen a lot of statements back then indicating that this was a big personal issue for people. There were a lot of 'single issue' voters on the topic of terrorism and national security. And I think that the 'global test' statement in the debates put to rest any remaining uncertainty on their part on whether Kerry was tough enough. The atmosphere in 2004 - as I followed it from abroad - was different. The image of the September 11 attacks was still recent. The Iraq war had not really begun to hurt. And there were colour-coded terror warnings all the time.

SC on :

True Nanne, Kerry's comment hurt some. But note that a negative reaction to the "global test" would not qualify as evidence of a specific reaction to Europe but rather to a long standing allergy to infringement on sovereignty generally. The oath of office for the President is rather simple and direct and when someone for that office - foolishly, in my opinion - begins speaking of "global tests" that person begs scrutiny and skepticism; which, relative to that comment, is exactly what Kerry got. It was something he did to himself not something that the opposing campaign crafted, but it did fit with a general theme that was crafted and used against him that he was "out of touch" with "ordinary" Americans: unfortunately for him, Kerry seemed all too cooperative with the effort.

Don S on :

I looked a little further into the poll than Joerg apparently did (???), and saw the following more nuanced question from the Harrfis poll: Do you feel that [see below] is a close ally of the U.S., is friendly but not a close ally, is not friendly but not an enemy, or is unfriendly and is an enemy of the U.S.?" The results were interesting to say the least. Only 3 countries recieved over 50% response in the 'close ally' category, the UK (70%), Canada (57%), and Australia (54%). Germany got 28% on this question, and was rated 'Friendly' by 39%, 'Not Friendly by 20%, and 'Enemy' by 6%. France rated 20% CA , 38% F, 27% NF, and 11% enemy. Some other interesting resilts: India got 18%, 43%, 21%, and 8%, China 5, 25, 40, and 23. South Korea had the most schitzophrenic result, with 29% regarding it as a close ally but 20% each regarding it as not friendly and enemy respectivly. I suspect that before 9/11 the German numbers would havebeen quite different, with the figures for 'close ally' closer to 40% and 'friendly' probably close to the current figure. The fact that 72% of Americans polled do not regard Germany as a close ally and 80% regard France similarly - DESPITE the Merkel/Sarko effect! Continental Europe is now regarded as 'friendly' but not 'close'. Italy is the closest continental ally according to this poll, with 35% saying Ialy is a close ally. My guess is that both India and China are regarded more warmly than a decade ago, particularly India. This should come as a shock to nobody. Millions of Europeans marched in the streets protesting US facism/militarism only a few years ago, and perceptions of Germany in particular suffered from actions of some of it's politicians. France also, but the French actions were both more nuanced and more expected.

Joerg on :

"I looked a little further into the poll than Joerg apparently did (???)," Nanne wrote this post. The name of the author is posted below the headline. But, yes, admit it is not very big. Nanne certainly looks much further into polls than I do... Whether you, Don, went even further into the poll and down the looking glass, I don't know. ;-)

Nanne on :

It's a minor slip-up, recognised below. Don certainly looked deeper into the polls than I initially did, and his responses are well-argued. I was looking only at the Gallup poll (and the Pew poll on American perceptions of the US' image abroad). The Harris poll has a low sample, which could explain the more quirky results. A less benevolent explanation of the South Korea result would be that a certain number of people didn't distinguish it from North Korea. In the Gallup polls, there is a 10 percentage point jump for Germany following the election of Merkel, and for France there is a 12 point jump following the election of Sarkozy. That's big.

Don S on :

Nanne, the Mekel/Sarko effect is what I might describe as 'a mile wide and an inch deep', as someone once described the Platte river. Merkel was a German pullback from an extreme reaction, and the Gallup poll was the same thing. But.... Looking at what Merkel has actually done - it isn't much. Not because of Merkel herself as much as because of the coalition government and because German public opinion will not support effective German action. Germans are still ptetty frigid to the idea of doing very much to support NATO's current operations in Afghanistan, no? In fact they wish to pull out. Why not? It's a US war. The problem with that attitude is that the US public can apply the same litmus test to affairs much more important to thw continental European NATO membership. And will do, I think, in the fullness of time... The Harris poll shows a similar cooling in the US public atitudes toward Germany. Neither Germans not Yanks are in a mood for having a 'close alliance' with the other, even if Merkel or Bush were (or are). BTW, if Germany does pull out of Afghanistan - expect US public opinion toward Germany (and continental Europe generally) to cool significantly.

Don S on :

Pardon the slip of my typing fingers, Joerg. It was indeed Nanne.

David on :

Don - did it strike you that the three nations that were cited as "close allies" were all English speaking, and Germany ranked the same as Israel? If Israel isn't a close ally, then who is? The animosity you see towards Europe in the US simply doesn't exist. BTW we are celebrating the decision by Volkswagen to set up manufacturing again (after a 20-year hiatus) in the US, creating thousands of new jobs.

Pat Patterson on :

That is good news tempered by the fact that by producing cars in the US reduces some of the obligations VW's imports(or rather Porsche's imports) might face under the new CAFE standards. Plus the really good news is that Tennessee is a Right-to_Work state and the contract VW had with the UAW have expired. Who would have thought an Obama supporter would be so hostile to the union movement?

Zyme on :

Are you also celebrating DHL's plans to withdraw its US delivery-base in Ohio, costing up to 10000 jobs? I read that it causes arguements even among the presidential candidates. How could that be in the land of the locusts? :)

Pat Patterson on :

So another US division of a German company, Deutsche Post, discovers the joys of moving to another Right-to-Work state. But at least in the US we won't see any accidental Rudolph Hess stamps. Most locusts are extinct in the US since the early 1900's though many genus of crickets and cicadas are still around so I'm not to sure what the reference means. Plus in reference to Right-to-Work states I was being sarcastic as the Democraic Party hates them just as much as German companies love them in the US as opposed to what they have at home.

Zyme on :

What is a "right-to-work-state" ? The term "Locusts" is used here to describe an economical behavior - companies that make profit by buying financially challenged companies, getting rid of the employees, selling the valuable parts and squeezing everything of worth out of the rest. This process is associated with American private equity investors here. Hence the land of the locusts :) Look here - http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2005/05/germanys_larges.html Never seen this harsh critic? :D This is practically what the ordinary people here expect from an "American investor". By referring to the land of the locusts above, I simply made a sarcastic side-hint to the point that I don't expect german companies to behave differently abroad.

Joe Noory on :

Zyme - you seem quite aware that the prism of "international image" is meaningless when it comes to DHL or Daimler opening a plant here or there, that far larger are the issues of how those units behave as American companies would in that environment. It has nothing to do with the prism of the fairy tale notion of nations on a league table that so dominates so many opinions heard on a one-on-one level.

Pat Patterson on :

A Right-to-Work state basically says that an employee of any company, depending on the state by size or capitalization, does not have to join a union or pay agency dues even if that union manages to sign a contract with the employer. As a result these workplaces, though still bound by US and state work place safety rules, are much more flexible in job responsibilites and assignments. Neither a unionized employee or a nonunion employee can be punished because of their status. Whereas in other states a worker might not be able to even work unless they are either a member or pay agency fees to the union. AS a result the big unions, SEIU, UAW, or the NEA have little or no presence in these states and have little clout in local or state-wide politics. The UAW has been trying to organize been trying to unionize Toyota for years with little success mainly most of the workers themselves are local residents that have had little use or help from the unions for at least a hundred years. Toyota is currently even threatening to close the one plant, a co-op with GM, because costs there are 25% higher and production lower than any other Toyota plant in the South. I can see how the locusts might be applicable but when DHL bought Airborne and acquired the hub at Dayton both companies were profitable. Rising fuel costs have ended that profitability and thus leasing DHL's US deliverys by Deutsche Post to UPS makes a lot of sense. UPS already has a huge hub barely a hundred miles away and Deutsche Post does have stockholders to keep happy. I was twitting David because though Sen. Obama is relying on union money and phonebanks David seemed to be welcoming a non-union company to set up shop in a red state.

Don S on :

David, the Harris poll I saw had 42% of Americans regarding Israel as a close ally, versus 28% regarding Germany as a close ally. I don't understand how you conclude that is the same! ;)

SC on :

That's very interesting, Don. I did not look at these results. Perhaps, questions meant to gauge the warm and fuzziness of feelings toward specific countries generates different results from questions meant to gauge the likelihood that you'll find these same "next to you in a foxhole". :) @David: I don't think Don was making the case for "animosity toward Europe", but rather citing a seeming anomaly in the polling responses. In fact, the results he cites are based upon a question that asks for an assessment of the general state of relations between the US and various countries. @Nanne: The results for South Korea don't seem that surprising to me. Over the last several years there have been a number of episodes and incidents, well enough publicized, that I can easily imagine have annoyed many Americans. European marches and demonstrations that Don cites have had their counterparts in South Korea. Moreover, the South Koreans have at times in recent years been prickly partners in various regional negotiations. Add to this that far more so than at any time in Europe during the Cold War, American forces - particularly along the DMZ - appear to many to be a sacrificial tripwire and you have a recipe for some resentment.

Don S on :

I think that is the point of the poll, SC. I think the problem comes down to what is percieved as an alliance. Is it a expression of a real intent to fight in each other'defense, or is it some kind of superannutated men's club in the suburbs of Bruxelles? The US, UK, Canada, and the Eastern Europeans view it as an actual alliance. Germany, Spain, Italy, and France view it as a mens club. France is perhaps a little more serious than most of the other - although that might change if the Socialists ever got in. The effect is that the former group will tend to bear ALL of the real-world consequences of the alliance, or 90%+ anyway. My question is whether that makes any sense at all for any of the weight-bearing members of NATO. Canada has only one potential enemy of any importance - the US. Why should Canada worry about Russia or China? Geographically Russia is not a natural rival of the US. And the UK is far enough away from any threat that I doubt it need worry. I think NATO's natural order is upside-down. Continental Europe should be bearing the weight of defending Europe from the nearby threats - the US has no business in that area.

SC on :

Don: It comes down to the matter of interests, doesn't it? No alliance functions smoothly when interests are not well aligned as seems to have been the case for NATO since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Perhaps the US has expected more of its NATO partners in recent years than is reasonable given the original focus of the alliance and European political realities: How many Europeans - West or East - would have imagined that signing on to the alliance would involve fighting in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan in some future year? The Fulda Gap, yes, of course: but, Afghanistan? There's been a 50 year interval during which Americans have dealt with a continuum of military involvements all over the planet and Europeans - not so much. Iraq and Afghanistan may be a stretch even for Americans but not so big a one as for Europeans since 1945, generally, I think. Like Henry Higgins, in "My Fair Lady", we'll likely always wonder, "Why can't they be more like us?" ;) It is, as you suggest, certainly reasonable now for the EU and European countries to the take on the lead, and the expense, in Continental defense issues. However, I do think that history suggests that the US has an interest in this as well and that NATO might serve as an appropriate vehicle for conveying this interest. Moreover, Canada, Denmark and Norway, might just find US interests in the Arctic useful vis-a-vis those of Russia and vice-versa.

franchie on :

France rated 20% CA , 38% F, 27% NF, and 11% enemy. well, isn't it the result of your MSM bashings ? I am afraid to contradict you a little bit (?) Now, that I also surf on the american sites, the perception of the different feelings depends more on how you can manage discussions with "these people". It is well known that the Frenchs hardly speak or read "english", cause of our way of learning english in our educational system : through litterature texts !!!! I can tell you that I made quite new friendship relations wih Americans that previously were basically anti-Frenchs. (though, Im not easy-easy :lol:) The Americans expect generally that we like or love them : they think that their policy is made of good altruism feelings. They think that their political and economical system are the best in the world and want that we all adopt them for the best possible future of the world. Now, that means for us to forget about our identity and originality. Difficult to admit that for a French.

Don S on :

Does 'Europe-bashing' have diminishing returns in this election, as Nanne's headline states? Without doubt. In many respects this will be a reprise of the 1992 "It's the Economy, Stupid", election. Plenty of economic trouble out there & lot's of people will be voting their pocketbooks. In this situation bashing Germany or France woul be regarded as an irrelevancy at best and a sign of a tin ear at worst. But don't take this as too much of a sign that Europe is back in fashion in the US. Well - let me qualify that statement. Opinion ratings toward Germany and France are higher than the abysmal levels of 2003. France may have recovered it's pre-2002 levels, but the Harris poll results may show that Germany has not recovered completely - it is no longer seen as a 'close ally'. Certain European attitudes may be in vogue concern two areas of public policy - public health insurance and possibly the death penalty. Possibly. But it is perfectly possible for the US to partially adopt European solutions to some problems while falling out of alliance with continental europe.

franchie on :

actually, it seems that the european solutions are preceived as "evil" communist internatiionalism, therefore dhimminitude

Don S on :

Ummm, franchie? Where have I labled Europe or Europeans 'evil', or used the word 'dhimmi' (which I have come to detest, btw)? About as far as I'll go is saying that Europeans are 'wrong', 'shortsighted', or sometimes when angered I might use 'ungrateful'. My point of view is that the interests of much of what Rumsfeld called 'old' Europe and those of the US have diverged far enough that NATO cannot hold them together, and as a fact NATO is a 'Pometkin village' of an alliance. All facade and little substance. But in this era perhaps that is what is needed?

Marie-Claude (franchie) on :

Don, I am not saying that you used the kind of words,I was just paroding the general idea that I have read so many times on republican blogs

Pat Patterson on :

Which ones?

Marie-Claude on :

the "american thinkers'"....

Pat Patterson on :

That's only one, and that's not really a blog considering the editor rarely writes or even responds to the commnets but rather a source for writings that could be fairly labeled conservative. But can I assume that in reciprocity I now can make sweeping generalities about France based on No Pasaran or even worse, Superfrenchie? Of the 43 articles currently linked only three mention Europe at all and only in the context of the Magical Mystery Tour. Not one article is about Europe as a single subject therefore there cannot have been cries of evil or even cries of socialism. In fact they are mainly covering Sen. Obama's Tiergarten speech and how it relates to American politics. One of the article linked to is by Soeren Kern who has written several articles that the editors of Atlantic Review have posted. Plus unless the headline is like one of those hidden messages on the back of a cereal box there is no headling saying, Golly, We Are Indeed a Republican Blog! And We the Undersigned All Believe Socialism is Evil!

Marie-Claude on :

if you had read correctly : thinkers' it was ment many persons there, and these persons think they are "thinkers". well, I know that I prefer to go on "bad boys" places,where it's more fun to make the "black chicken" I do read the "american Thinker", there are there some well written articles ; yes, Obama is actually the main focus, but some of the people that write articles have also a private blog, and I know quite a bit of the readers of that site either that talk so !

Pat Patterson on :

That's even more confusing, American Thinkers is a group blog devoted to religion while American Thinker is as I outlined earlier. Unless you mean people who think in America which sounds pretty lame. The latter doesn't sound any more reliable in me writing that all French love Jerry Lewis because I got it from French thinkers especially if I don't identify any of them. My point is that such sources are hardly ones to make any judgement on whether Americans, or some Americans, think socialism is evil.

Marie-Claude on :

well, I guess that I didn't use the right formule : I ment the plural of thinker and not the thinkers' site

Fuchur on :

I think McCain could very well profit from pandering to American anti-European sentiments. True, most Americans don't really care about Europe or the rest of the world. But these people also won't take offense with anti-European remarks. So, while it wouldn't hurt him, it would help him score points with the not insignificant minority of anti-Europeans.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"pandering to American anti-European sentiments." I think this ad from the Republican National Committee is okay and does [b]not[/b] cross the line regarding Anti-Germanism or whatever: [url]http://hermann.blog.com/3420418/[/url] What do you think? And: Can you imagine the outcry in the Republican blogosphere, if a German party would produce a similar ad? Oh, half the blogosphere would whine about "Anti-Americanism" for months.

Nanne on :

Poor production values. And it's kind of a 90s image of Berlin. Minimal rules these days. The last girl is funny in a stuff white people like kind of way, with her talk of superficiality and being different (she's British, I guess, but then I'm also a Berliner).

Fuchur on :

I think it's an appalling example of anti-Germanism. It's just the pattern I expected: Don't come out in the open with the German/European-bashing, instead, do it with sublime messages: One little shot at "fawning Germans" here, one attack ad there (of course, not "officially" approved, "only" paid for by the RNC)... not enough to scare off the "mainstream" voters, but enough to get the "message" across.

Zyme on :

Relax, the people interested into such developments here would only be offended by such ads if they expected otherwise.

Joe Noory on :

I wouldn't get too concerned. The subject of Europe came up for about 2 days, but was eclipsed by the usual camaigning. Otherwise the subject hasn't and isn't really going to come up other than here and there when policy proposals are compared to the "European social model", and that isn't bashing. It's a perfectly ligitimate subject of discussion. Don't take this the wrong way, but Europe is the last thing on the American public's mind running up to an election. There really isn't anything involving Europe as much to the voter as does energy, the economy, the environment, etc.

Fuchur on :

If nobody in America cares about Germany anyway, then what's the point of McCain's Germany-bashing? Does this mean that he's just doing this for fun, without any purpose? Gee, that's a relief...

influx on :

Right, Fuchur, what do they care about Europeans? They may call for [url=http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2008/06/fascinating-art.html#comments]bombing Dresden[/url] again, or talk about how all Europeans, and I am quoting, have [url=http://www.haloscan.com/comments/nopasa/600453065878820294/]shit for brains[/url], but what do they really care? I'd be happy if someone could tell me about a European blog or whatever filled with the same kind of blind-eyed hatred and vitriol as the comments on Joe Noory's site or on Medienkritik's. But, right, I forgot, those are just comments, so you're not responsible for them. Wait, the "shit for brains" thing was actually a headline, not a comment. "Don't take this the wrong way, but Europe is the last thing on the American public's mind running up to an election." That's why some of them run blogs dedicated to almost nothing but spouting hatred directed at Europeans.

Zyme on :

Oh my goodness, thank you for the hint - I have taken a look at Joe's site for the first time now. What an obsession.

David on :

"shit for brains" Influx, Don't feel too bad. They also say the same about their fellow Americans - at least those (the vast majority) who despise Bush and his policies.

Don S on :

Ummmm, Dave? It's a general expression used by all parts of the political spectrum about other parts. One thing you never mention about the Bush disapprovers is that they vary quite a bit in their favored solutions to the problems. About 35-40% are actually MORE hawkish about Irq, Iran, and Europe than Bush is. Right now he is seen to have failed - much as Harry Truman left office as a *failure*. But history may have another view - as it did in Truman's case. If Iraq works out in the long run (as South Korea did) Bush's rating will soar in maybe a decade. One more thing - if Obama is elected and has a difficult term - Bush will look better. Much as his father looks better today than he did in 1992. The US is in a difficult economic fix today - a situation not unlike 1976 in some ways. Not predicting anything, but one fairly likely scenario for an Obama presidency is 'Jimmy Carter'. There are other possible scenarios - 'JFK' is a possibility. 'Reagan' is another. I'm hoping he does better than Carter if elected, I think he's smarter and a better politician than Carter was, and Carter had some bad luck as well as a lack of political skill. But bad luck happens, guy. Obama can probably blame any recession prior to 2010 on Bush, but if a second recession hits after 2010 it could be very bad news for him.

quo vadis on :

Joerg, Im trying to visualize the parallel youre drawing, but Im having a hard time imagining what the German reaction would be if a candidate for high government office came to the US, was greeted by a fawning Bush and Cheney and then gave a speech before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of cheering neo-cons, swaying Christian fundamentalists and gun-wielding rednecks. Would they even allow that candidate back into Germany?

Zyme on :

Such a politician would be banned for high treason! :)

Volker on :

Nah just for him we would reestablish the death penalty and execute him within two weeks and NO parole.

Joe Noory on :

Actually, a presidential campaign bashing any nation not openily hostile to us would seem tasteless and wouldn't appeal to the American public a great deal. The more likely outcome is to simply not address the subject at all and for his to maintain his dignity by discussing good relations in the conventional, not in the solipsistic language of teenage infatuation. Besides, there really isn't anything to gain by trying to ingratiate America to Europeans. The circumstances under which an allied collaboration would take place wouldn't be moved by a European population liking the US president. The excuses will be made, but the greatest of which will be that there would be "no way of knowing who will be in the WH in 4 years anyway." Basically, so long as there is a way to free ride, people will try. There is also no rational reason that a fungible image abroad that directly establishes nothing is worth basing a vote on. It's also irrational to believe that a President McCain WOULDN'T be liked either. After all, under the glaze of progressive-seeming expression about Obama, is something that traditionally appealed a lot more to Europeans: the constancy and moderate view with which McCain has been seen for the past two decades. So this entire intersection between who it is that Europeans would really want AS a US president is speculative at best compared to what they might see IN a US president. Odds on, they would detest either of them when there's a pause in the news cycle.

Don S on :

I agree with Joe. I think all this talk about how the new American President must do this or that to accomodate 'European' wishes is mostly hot air for the following reasons: - Which 'Europe'? There are so many 'Europes' with different ideas about what US policy should be that it's virtually impossible for a President to accomodate all or even most of them! Sometimes I think the EU should be renamed the 'Tower of Babel'. Sometimes it seems most similar to negociating with the UN General Assembly - and that is a body now ignored because of it's cosmic inability to focus. - Negociation means there are trades, valuta and/or policies going BOTH directions. In this case many quids are being unconditionally demaned of the US and it's new President, much as most of Europe did with Bush. Few if any 'quos' to be seen. What we see too often from Europe cannot be described as negociation. When one asks for something without offering anything of remotely equal value in return, the proper phrase is not negociation but demands. An when this is done in the style which many europeans have becomed accustomed to doing - 'unconditional demands' is not too strong a phrase. Frankly I think a lot of what I read are the results of hurt feelings on the part of continental Europe. Europe (in their view) ought to matter - matter critically. It ought to be the final arbiter of policy for the entire Western alliance. No matter that Europe has chosen to give as little help as possible even to policies which Europe supports, Afghanistan being only the most obvious example. Wake up an smell the coffee - influence is directly proportional to effort! One major European country has made a real effort and has real influence as a result. The UK. France is recovering some of it's influence under Sarko for two reasons - he's been willing to reach out and to respond to inititives from outside the cozy EU sandbox, AND because he's been willing to commit more resources than others have been.

jpg on :

If the Americans consider that France is not a close ally of the United States, it is very likely that the French people do not consider either the United States as their closest ally but simply as the most powerful in the military domain. It is true as well that the period of french bashing is also for something there.

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