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Obama's Wish List for Europe

"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?

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Marie Claude on :

"then boycott Chinese and Russian goods. Anybody ready to do that?" yeah, easy, my energy comes from the nearer nuclear power site : 15 km. I don't need chinese gadgets, nor their textiles, um I prefer to buy less but of good quality !!! As far Iran is concerned, according to their great cultural past, according to their education, I am prety sure that they would prefer to deal with us, meaning the Americans, cuz this is their dream. As far as I understood of their "emotional" policies, they still agitate fears and winds, to make us comply, until we'll find the point to start negociations, um, they want to become the ariter of ME

Don S on :

"Well, should not the US also take a tougher stance on China? " By the same rationale that the US took a 'tougher stance' on German trade with Iran because German companies trade ties with Iran undermined the effectiveness of the international regime of sanctions on Iran? This of course never happened despite the fact that the German-Iranian trade surely made NATO's task of inhibiting Iranian efforts to breach the Non-Proliferation Treaty much more difficult. So what justification could Obama build anti-Chinese sanctions upon? China (not a NATO member) acted in a manner no worse than Germany (a NATO member) did? That won't fly with anyone, will it? It's true that the US hasn't played the Dalai Lama card much under George W Bush, probably because they got weary of playing it alone. Until Sarko was elected basically nobody in Europe gave a curse about such things. The IOC (read EOC) gave China the 2008 Summer Games while maintining an unoffical embargo on future Summer Games in the US - surely one can't give a clearer signal that nobody in Europe really cares about Tibet or Tianeman Square, can one? Well so now people have changed their minds? Perhaps you need to talk to the US, and woo US over to YOUR POV this time, for once?

nanne on :

Don, you might want to re-read [url=http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,507443,00.html]this old story[/url]. Germany was never the big problem with regard to sanctions on Iran.

quo vadis on :

So did anyone ever actually produce any "explosive" data or anything else to back up all this hyperbole or is this just another attempt to excuse German self interest and obstructionism on multi-lateral projects. I've had about enough of Germans making excuses rather than making genuine efforts to hold up their end in matters they sign up for.

Don S on :

I don't think that's really necessary, quo. The allegation is enough to salve Germans feelings that they may be letting down their allies. It's a similar principal to the one used when Rumsfeld became the poster child for Western complicity with Hussein's Iraq even though the US actually did an incredibly paltry volumn of business with Iraq compared with that done by France, Germany, etc. Rummy was there and said nice thing about Iraq 25 years ago - so that justifies all the collusion everyone else did to undermine the UN sanctions a decade later.....

Marie Claude on :

Don, your really blind or you want to provoke ? I got some news for you on my place, it all about RAND institute lots of things that are hidden to the oor ol good Americans....

quo vadis on :

It's not ALL about the RAND Institute. Don't forget the Freemasons, the Bilderburg group, the guys who shot Kennedy and the space aliens from Roswell.

Marie Claude on :

you can still laugh , but for how long ? how are you going to pay your debt ?

quo vadis on :

You waste too much of your time reading the words of nutjobs. Try this: http : //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

Marie Claude on :

https : // www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html https : // www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2187rank.html

quo vadis on :

Are you sure you know what these numbers mean? Because none of this is relevant to the topic at hand.

Marie Claude on :

but WiKipedia's sound good for you these are in the previous link I posted before but that you obviouly didn't open

quo vadis on :

You asked me how the US was going to pay it's debt. Answer: With the money we make - GDP. That's why debt/GDP is the relevant measure of public indebtedness. No matter who's numbers you look at (See the discussion at Wikipedia for the various alternate sources if you like) the US debt/GDP is on average consistent with that of the stronger European economies (excepting major oil exporters) and considerably better than that of many other well regarded countries. I'm amused, but not surprised to find that most Europeans know little about their own county's economic vulnerabilities but are especially well versed in every imaginary doomsday scenario regarding the US, all the while deriding the stupid American redneck as some sort of ignorant pawn in the service of the hidden overlords. It's especially amusing when an unambiguous glimpse of reality makes it through the BS, like when the downturn started and Europeans celebrated the long awaited collapse of the US economy only to find the value of the Dollar rising against the Euro. How can this be? LOL!

Marie Claude on :

http : // www.counterpunch.org/whitney11282008.html not a french or wikipedia article !!!

Joe Noory on :

What about France's larger debt which was even [url=http://forums.canadiancontent.net/international-politics/36662-french-public-debt-now-exceeds.html]exploding[/url] during an economic expansion phase?

Marie Claude on :

yeah, I know, it's all about social debt, but our banks are still solvable

Pat Patterson on :

Of course French banks are still solvent. That's easy to accomplish when the government owns a big chunk of them and is determined to keep them afloat.

David on :

You mean unlike in the US? I've lost track of how many banks I own a piece of - thanks to Hank Paulson.

Pat Patterson on :

You, meaning we, have loaned money to the banks, bought up some of the debt and imposed new rules on some of the others as well. But we do not own positions in the banks that call for the government, as in France, to have seats on the corporate boards engaged in the long term strategy and the overseeing of corporate officers to carry those goals out and run the bank on a day to day basis. Big difference.

David on :

The TARP program consists of Preferred Stock, my friend. That is equity. Last count, the Fed has purchased Pref. Shares in 52 institutions, including $20 billion in "Shitty" Bank.

Pat Patterson on :

But unlike France the US, at this time, does not have a seat on any corporate boards nor does it have any Federal official as a CEO. A new law would have to be passed to give that power to the government. So far as I can find out only nine banks have participated in selling preferred stock to the Feds. The Feds do not have voting rights, the purchase is basically structured as a loan and a fee will be charged all banks to protect the value of these shares. They are structured to a dividend or loan fee of 5% for the first five years and then 9% until the shares are repurchased. Whereas France owns stakes in all the banks, has voting rights, can secure more money without guarantees from the banks and currently has no plans to settle these accounts until the Four Horsemen appear.

Marie Claude on :

OK, we'll see how it will work, apparently the "brains" forecast that the dollar will collapse next year http : // www.ft.com/cms/s/33f5d15a-c010-11dd-9222-0000779fd18c,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F33f5d15a-c010-11dd-9222-0000779fd18c.html%3Fnclick_check%3D1&_i_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rense.com%2F&nclick_check=1

David on :

As of Dec. 2 the Fed had injected $150 billion in 52 banks. There are more than one hundred more that are looking to sell preference shares or they might fail. (Check the GAO reports if you don't have access to the WSJ) The French structure is much better. In the US, the taxpayers are getting screwed big-time: This just came over the wires: "Stock intended to eventually earn taxpayers a profit as part of the Bush administration's massive bank bailout has lost a third of its value — about $9 billion — in barely one month, according to an Associated Press analysis. Shares in virtually every bank that received federal money have remained below the prices the government negotiated."

Pat Patterson on :

Oops, 149 it is but my original argument concerning the difference between the type of shares now owned by the US and the ownership stake the French have in their banks still stands.

Marie Claude on :

they aren't allowed to get more than a third of the capital

Marie Claude on :

http : // www.tomdispatch.com/post/174884 bon courage

quo vadis on :

I seem to recall that the firmer stance that the US took toward Iran prior to the revised National Intelligence Estimate a year ago was generally viewed as problematic by Europe and the rest of the world. Am I mistaken or has the European position wrt Iran changed significantly over the last year? If so, why?

Pamela on :

Boycot Russian goods? WHAT Russian goods? The only product I've ever seen from Russia was those little nesting dolls sold at an international shop at Union Station. Oh, Vodka, ok. What else? China is killing its own export business here in the U.S. It started in earnest with the melamine in pet food that killed and maimed a lot of animals (whatever else the world may dislike us for, we can't be faulted for our devotion to our animals). I know when I grocery shop I now check the country of origin and if it's China I don't buy it (e.g., edamame, frozen scallops, etc.) Re: Iran - this is hilarious "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. " Yes, Iran has shown such willingness to 'compromise'. What does that mean? These people in think tanks are detached from reality.

Pat Patterson on :

Caviar ? We'll boycott caviar and all those skinny Russian models! That'll fix their wagon good!

David on :

The northeast is covered with Lukoil filling stations. I try to avoid them since I'm not interested in lining Putin's pockets.

Don S on :

So do you go to Citgo instead, David? ;) To enrich Hugo Chavez, I mean. Best to stick with BP or Exxon, or better still just go to a non-brand cheapo station....

Don S on :

Marie Claude: "OK, we'll see how it will work, apparently the "brains" forecast that the dollar will collapse next year" Marie, the 'Brains' are of course always correct, because if they are ever wrong they are no longer "Brains", no? Actually the former set of 'Brains' already forecast that the dollar was a pig which would crash this year. But an amazing thing happened instead - the pig grew wings and flew! "It ain't necessarily so, it ain't necessarily so. De t'ings dat yo' li'ble to read in de Bible, it ain't necessarily so." And not only the Bible. Also the Wall Street Journal, Der Speigel, the New York Times, and Le Monde.... ;) "To get into Hebben don't snap for a sebben. Live clean, don have no fault. Oh, I takes dat gospel whenever it's possible but wid a grain of salt."

Marie Claude on :

even, some said that pigs have lipstick on their mouth

Alfred E Neumann on :

Shame on you, Marie! How dare you say such a thing about a lady, even if she IS a little 'big in the Bumdestag', as one of the Britiah tabloid newspapers alleged....

Marie Claude on :

uh, does she hunt bears from an helicopter too ?

Alfred E Neumann on :

I doubt it is legal to do that in Germany...

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