"NATO's 60th anniversary summit in France and Germany in April, 2009 may well offer Europeans their first reality check on the 44th president," write Michael F. Harsch and Calin Trenkov-Wermuth in the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) feature on PostGlobal (via German Joys):
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently stated that he does not believe the Obama administration will make any unrealistic demands once it comes into office. Steinmeier is likely to be disappointed. The first item on Obama's wish list will most likely be greater European burden-sharing in Afghanistan. The danger of a NATO failure in Afghanistan is real, and this issue will dominate the NATO summit's agenda.
Second item on the wish list is Iran:
Before starting any negotiations, Obama will expect the Europeans to agree on more than just 'carrots' promising rewards if Iran should abolish its nuclear program. The new administration will also demand agreement on credible 'sticks' in case the Iranians are not ready to compromise. These could be simply tougher economic and political sanctions but Obama has also made it clear that he will not put the military option off the table.
Okay, those are the usual speculations about Obama's wish list. The third point on China was new to me. Harsch and Trenkov-Wermuth expect Obama to
urge Europeans to take a tougher stance on China, which is seen as undermining the West's efforts to put pressure on Iran. China has dramatically increased its economic ties with Iran, filling some of the gaps created by the departure of American and European companies. Recently, Iran announced that trade exchanges with China will exceed $25 billion this year, compared to $9.2 billion in 2005, and unless this trend is stopped or reversed, the threat of tougher economic sanctions will not have the desired impact.
Well, should not the US also take a tougher stance on China? Sarkozy, who currently holds the EU presidency, just got "tough" by announcing that he will have a chat with the Dalai Lama in Poland. This was enough for the Chinese to cancel a summit with the EU.
The US seems to be very dependent on China in the current financial crisis, so I am not sure if Obama will put pressure on the Chinese over the Iran's nuclear program.
Finally, the authors believe that US policy on Russia and Eastern Europe won't change much under Obama:
The US under President Obama will still call for a tougher stance and a more unified reaction from the European countries to Russian threats, especially from Germany, France and Italy. Obama will urge the big European powers to send a clear message to the central and eastern European NATO members that they are ready to defend them, and he will reaffirm the US commitment to the accession of Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO.
That's pretty stupid. In my humble opinion, journalists, think tankers and politicians should not use the phrase "tougher stance," which the authors used to describe policy advice for dealing with Iran and China. This phrase is so vague. It's meaningless. You want to be really tough, then boycott Chinese and Russian goods. Anybody ready to do that?