Barack Obama's first foreign trip as president will take him to Canada tomorrow, not to Europe. He gave his first press interview to an Arab TV station, not a European broadcaster.
Secretary Clinton went on a tour to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China, but not yet to Europe. She brought "an invitation from President Obama to Prime Minister Taro Aso to meet him at the White House next Tuesday. He will be the first foreign leader received at the White House," reports the New York Times. Michael Green, the Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, describes in the Wall Street Journal how to freshen up "a key trans-Pacific alliance."
Should we get envious or even concerned that the new and cool team in Washington does not want to play "Hope & Change" with us? Is the Pacific region taking priority over Europe in Obama's US foreign policy? Could be, but that is not bad for us. Europe benefits from America's strong security presence in Asia. My friend Shawn Beilfuss, a supply chain manager in Melbourne, agrees and concludes: The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Relationships: Not a Zero-Sum Game.
Besides, we are still winning the Google Fight: Searching for "trans-atlantic alliance" produces twice more results on Google than "trans-pacific alliance." And we are even more popular, if you skip the dash after "trans."
Moreover, Vice-President Biden was already in Germany, as for instance Michael Knigge points out in a commentary for Deutsche Welle: Biden gave a foreign policy keynote speech at the Munich Security Conference. Europeans got all warm and excited, when Biden promised that the new administration would listen more, even though he stressed that America would also ask for more support. Europeans are not quite prepared to deliver, which French President Sarkozy emphasized by rhetorically asking in Munich: "Does Europe want peace, or does Europe want to be left in peace?" I think we learned from Japan how to be a good ally of the United States: just smile!
Endnote: European leaders are hitting the road as well and reorient their foreign policies in search of new economic deals. ABC News reports: Old Europe Reaches out to New Iraq
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the first German foreign minister to come to Iraq in more than 20 years, arrived one week after Nicolas Sarkozy visited Baghdad, the French president calling on other European countries to follow his lead "to support the peace."