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"Obama's Popularity Doesn't Mean Much Abroad"

"It's  not too early to render a preliminary judgment on Team Obama's foreign policy, says Josef Joffe, editor of the German weekly Die Zeit: "The basic lesson, alas, is that nice guys don't do better than meanies like Mr. Bush."

Apparently Joffe and the Wall Street Journal editors, who published his op-ed (HT: John), think that Americans need to be reminded of the obvious: Obama's charisma has its limits abroad. Joffee brings up that old quote about "nations having everlasting interests rather than eternal friends or enemies" and translates it into today's language:

Interest beats affection any time. Mrs. Merkel surely knows how enthralled her country is with Mr. Obama. But that's not enough to place German soldiers in harm's way in Afghanistan, or to run up the national debt in a country that is traumatized by inflation.

Why is it necessary to state the obvious?

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Marie Claude on :

I see that you have been reading his chronicle, LMAO, I made a comment on the opinion journal, couldn't see it up to now.

Joe Noory on :

"Good guys and meanies"? That's so simplistic. I know that some here won't like this, but I'm still curious about the confounded childishness of anti-americans. It seems the more a leader used anti-americanism, the more they seem to want to be seen being liked by Obama. I wonder what narrative they're trying to imprint on these strange little stage plays, not to mention which domestic constituency the White House is trying to appeal to by playing along with things like Chavez' display of pretending to "teach America something" by overdramatically giving the President a book.

Don S on :

They may wish to be seen as 'liking' Obama, but to date that hasn't extended as far as actually cooperating with Obama more than with the disliked Bush. Obama went to the G20 and got nothing. Sarkozy came in with a brassy demand and apparently got what he demanded. Then Sarkozy did something really stupid - he boasted about it in public. He managed to offend at least three of the people he depends on most in one silly speech! Obama is 'weak'. In code that means Sarko thinks he can be rolled. Sarko called Angela Merkel 'dependent' (presumably he meant that Angela needed a strong man to tell he what her policy should be). Finally, Sarko called Spanish PM Zapatero 'dim'. Fortunately Sarkozy didn't refer to any of his fellow leaders as a 'fool'. This is good because in any picture of the four leaders together, none of the others is the fool; that spot is reserved for the President of France. The next time France needs something from it's allies, I predict that Obama will be focussed upon not getting 'rolled', Merkel will be intent on not being visibly dependent, and Zapatero won't be spending much time in the French corner either. Good luck, Fool Niko, and next time try not to make public addresses when you are drunk......

Marie Claude on :

"Obama went to the G20 and got nothing. Sarkozy came in with a brassy demand and apparently got what he demanded" where did you read that ? The winners of the G20 are the Chineses • The opposition is high between the Americans (who want to increase consumption, even at the price of inflation), the Chinese (who want to boost investment and protect their holdings), the Europeans (who want to regulate global capitalism), and the poorest countries, who are again the main victims." Did Sarko + Merkel were endorsed by the Angl-Saxons and Chineses ? NO http://blogs.lexpress.fr/attali/2009/03/the-g20-then-what.php "Then Sarkozy did something really stupid - he boasted about it in public. He managed to offend at least three of the people he depends on most in one silly speech! Obama is 'weak'. In code that means Sarko thinks he can be rolled. Sarko called Angela Merkel 'dependent' (presumably he meant that Angela needed a strong man to tell he what her policy should be). Finally, Sarko called Spanish PM Zapatero 'dim'." sumethin tells me that the Master of the Worlds intentionally show his preference for Chirac before, and that he had no real envy for a discret friends supper in Normandy, finding Sarko a bit too hyperactive. So this is the “retour du baton” or the the boomrang back… between distinguished persons that had to fists fight to get the place where they finally sit, not of bourgeoise education. Beside Berlusconi was even more acerb (and racist), he attacked O on his tan. Also for the others, I don't see that Germany didn't make some words on Sarkozy too, for Spain, apparently, Sarko's words have been misinterpreted, besides some spanish papers jumped on the occasion to press more on Zapatero "Fortunately Sarkozy didn't refer to any of his fellow leaders as a 'fool'. This is good because in any picture of the four leaders together, none of the others is the fool; that spot is reserved for the President of France. The next time France needs something from it's allies, I predict that Obama will be focussed upon not getting 'rolled', Merkel will be intent on not being visibly dependent, and Zapatero won't be spending much time in the French corner either. Good luck, Fool Niko, and next time try not to make public addresses when you are drunk...... sumthin tells me that you're still frustrated LMAO hey, you did vote for Obama, not us ! Watch out, you'll have Chavez and Castro to replace us, while may-be Sarko, Putin, Berlusconi and Merkel will enjoy some nice Beerschen mit Schnaps LMAO

Don S on :

"Beside Berlusconi was even more acerb (and racist), he attacked O on his tan." It wasn't an attack, it was a stupid joke. Berlusconi has a history of such jokes. I remember once he joked that he hoped his wife would take up with Danish PM Folgh Rasmussen, because he is 'handsome'. Did it in a press conference with Rasmussen standing right there. The subtext is that Berlusconi's wife is having an open affair with an Italian whom Berlusconi detests. So Berlusconi is a bit of a buffoon, but his gaffes have no diplomatic consequences. Sarko is worse than a buffoon - he is a fool.

Zyme on :

I wouldnt say Sarko is a fool - rather that he is a real daredevil. Dont know about America, but taunting others is sometimes used to find out the strength of your competition here. From the reactions you can learn more about the offended then from the offender. This is what I like about Sarko, it makes bilateral relationships transparent and interesting. Just imagine if Steinmeier doesnt make it against Merkel but Steinbrueck (currently minister of finance) does next time - with a man who thinks of diplomacy the way Wilhelm II did, Sarko would finally find a worthy opponent at the top :D Steinbruecks way of dealing with Switzerland, France, the US, Britain and the small tax heavens may have angered his partners in half the western world, but is simply too delicious not to be liked :)

Don S on :

If that is so why didn't Europe love Bush, then? Or is it payback time for Deutschland.... ;)

Marie Claude on :

because he is really idiot :-) and seems that that's not a spontaneous generation, they reproduct by education

Don S on :

Who is the idiot, Marie-Claude? Steinbrueck or Obama, or both? If the latter, I can only agree. Anyone who believes in the good will of either the French President or the German Chancellor is by definition an idiot. But Obama is a quick learner - he won't be taken the same way next time.

Zyme on :

Hey Don - in case you didnt know about Steinbrueck's standing in Europe, here are two entertaining articles about his performance ;) http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,613990,00.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7780160.stm

Don S on :

You had me going there for a while, Zyme, but no. I don't buy it. I read some time ago that Michael Moore's next project was going to be a mockumentary. Having read the 'links' you provided I went back and looked up Steinbrueck's pics. If Moore dropped 20 pounds and got a buzz cut.... Squint and kind of look sideways and it looks like Moore. Any moment now 'Steinbrueck' will turn, look into the camera, and intone: "Live, from Berlin, It's Saturday Night!"..... You may be skeptical,m but tell me - has anyone ever seen Moore and 'Steinbrueck' together in public? I rest my case......

Don S on :

"Just imagine if Steinmeier doesnt make it against Merkel but Steinbrueck (currently minister of finance) does next time - with a man who thinks of diplomacy the way Wilhelm II did, Sarko would finally find a worthy opponent at the top :D" Wilhelm II was diplomatically maladroit to an extraordinary degree - everything he touched turned to merde. The UK was reasonably friendly to the German Empire - so he started the naval race and changed that. The US was nominally neitral during WWI, so he waged unrestricted submarine warfare under the Atlantic. Then the Zimmerman telegram was sent out under German diplomatic cover, and that was the lest straw - the US entered the war against Germany. He also seems to have upset the Russian and Italian alliances which were Bismark's legacy to him somewhere along the way. He had a talent for turning allies into neutrals and neutrals into enemies, often both in series. So what you are really saying is that Sarko is a diplomatic anti-genius. Perhaps. I think his anti-talent is smaller than the Kaiser's was. But we'll see.

Zyme on :

Don't be too harsh on Wilhelm, who seems to be regaining a more positive standing in the german media lately. Watching the latest two state funded documentaries on him, I was left astonished listening to the speaker explaining the Kaiser's deeply routed unwillingness to go to war, and how the other bad guys in the government maneuvered him into war. For example it was explained that he telegraphed the austrians in the advent of the war that the casus belli against serbia was gone after they accepted an austrian ultimatum. Nonetheless the austrians declared war. When the Russians mobilized their troops to the german border (although formally still being at peace with Germany) and some 100.000 cheering germans rallied before the Kaiser's palace after this news spread, I guess nobody would have been able to keep the country on the leash. I cannot vow on the correctness of these facts, but given that even the state media - formerly highly critical of Wilhelm II - spreads such points makes one believe they might actually be true :)

Don S on :

Zyme, I wasn't referring to events in 1914, but years earlier. When Bismark stepped down the German Empire was allied with Russia, Austria, and Italy, he UK was neutral, and France isolated. The US was far less friendly with the UK than with Germany. By 1914 Russia was allied with France, which also had an 'entente cordiale' with the UK. The US was very unimpressed with 'Kaiser Bill', although determinately neutral. I submit this as a diplomatic anti-achievement of stunning proportions. It makes Bush look the piker that he was.

Marie Claude on :

Stadler isn't it of german origin ? The white Americans of the right wing frange is often of german origin and are admirative of the great Germany when she was a powerful army this also explains the sentence, "punish the French, berate the German" between Germany or France they will always choose Germany, even when with an Hitler, Roosvelt couldn't care less of an Europe under german tutelle, as long he could trade with the lot and the famous transatlantic alliance is still written in this color, Americans+Germans, are the locomotive, behave bloody idiot French, umm not quit, might be that our former maghrebin empire help us (with Spain)to stay independant

Don S on :

Marie, on the choice between France and Germany, I will always choose..... India. Or China, or both. Get my point?

Marie Claude on :

I see, you prefer to be higher :lol:

Don S on :

Marie, I had an interesting conversation at lunch yesterday with two work colleagues, a British and an Indian. The Brit was talking about what a universal pariah Bush was, and the Indian disagreed strongly and said Bush was an unusually effective diplomat. I laughed, because I've long since given up trying to defend Bush to most Europeans: they do not listen so I save my breath! I thought that a revealing insight. Bush WAS a pariah in Europe, no doubt about it. But in his favor he did a great deal to develop relations in Asia, Africa, and even with parts of Latin America (Brazil notably). In particular the US developed a much closer relationship with India. I think much of Europe still regards India as a 'Third World' country not far ahead of Kenya, but that is simply not true. India is a future superpower, and Bush recognized that fact, even if much of Europe doesn't know much about it.

Marie Claude on :

"Africa" ? where ? except in discourses or may-be Nigeria for good raisons,I forgot Kenya too ! though if you mean Maghreb, yes ! at least the CIA guis, one of them was lately condamned for having made some porn videos with girls that he prealably drugged "and even with parts of Latin America (Brazil notably)." umm, Brazil buy "made in Russia and in France"

Marie Claude on :

I understand that you want to retire there http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=agZ75QikqjWs&refer=home

Pat Patterson on :

Nah, that's one of the famous Stadlers of Oz lineage. But that so-called quote from Ms Rice was 'Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia.' The bona fides of that quote have never been proven as the one source used by Focus has neither confiremed the quote nor even identified himself. And what the quote shows is that none of the countries named were able to stop the US invasion and then got their panties in a twist over something that was probably bogus.

Marie Claude on :

"is that none of the countries named were able to stop the US invasion and then got their panties in a twist over something that was probably bogus." no, we didn't want to miss the show of the victorious battle facts, but it's going boring : too long, and we still are in the epilogue sorry, but our panties are OK, at least it's not paralysing for fighting pirats and or Talebani, though you're a historian (as you vow it) then, you should remember that Algeria war wasn't fought with drones or planes but with men that didn't shit in their panties for a close-combat

Pat Patterson on :

No, but they also rebelled against what they saw as DeGaulle's sellout to the Left in France. You do remember the OAS, don't you?

Marie Claude on :

it wasn't sold out to the left, 70% of the French voted independance, eh yes, the families had enough to send their youg guis abroad to defend a lobby of rich colons, that also refused to help de Gaulle in WW2. I don't think that these persons had some true interest and or love for France, except the civil servants and militaries. Besides OAS was the parallel government of Algeria, they would have accessed to independance with a fashist and repressive goverment too. Funny the things would not have been much different, the "Arabs" would have fled this regime and immigrate to France like they did as free immigrants. I still remember a school comrad that was a "rappatriée", she was spiting on France ; her parents were waiting for a visa either for Canada or for Australia. Besides these people names were often of spanish origin for Marroco and or Algeria, Sicilians, Italians, Maltese for Tunisia, while another girl was "charming" the teachers, though a guy was quite nice, he was joking and making us taste the food from "las-bas, dis!", and, above, all he was curious of us too, I think that he became a teacher. In the small city in Brittany we had quit a few families of them, some bought or created a store.

Pat Patterson on :

Until the referendum DeGaulle had to worry about the Communist Party in France which demanded that he give up in Algeria and withdraw from NATO. I'm not all that surprised that you are dismissive of the pied noirs as not real French citizens because they may have Spanish family names and thankful that that particular disease is kept safely on that side of the Atlantic. And are you seriously claiming that of the almost 1 million pied noirs and Harkis that fled to France were all rich colonists?

Marie Claude on :

"Until the referendum DeGaulle had to worry about the Communist Party in France which demanded that he give up in Algeria and withdraw from NATO." the configuration wan't of 1945, I don't think that the communists influenced his decision, they weren't important enough, at least, they would rather have supported a french Algeria, only to annoy the Americans that were supporting FLN, LMAO but De Gaulle had the experience of 2 wars, he saw that that one would never end, in spite of being won on battle fields, guerillas would regularely raise, terrorism coups... plus France hadn't achieved her infrastructures repearings (the bombings anyone ?) and de Gaulle didn't want to empech the French to access to modern transformations too. That said the socialists were leading the independance front in the medias, once more, this could never prevent de Gaulle to decide what he thought would be the rightest plan, he resisted to the Ango-Saxons and to Roosvelt maliciousety during his exil to London... LMAO "I'm not all that surprised that you are dismissive of the pied noirs as not real French citizens because they may have Spanish family names and thankful that that particular disease is kept safely on that side of the Atlantic. And are you seriously claiming that of the almost 1 million pied noirs and Harkis that fled to France were all rich colonists?" And I am neither at all surprised that you interpreted it in such a negative way ! must be your natural inclination to categorise every thing black or white ! majority of the pieds noirs worked for administrations, or banks, hospitals, liberal professions, or had small businesses, these had no problem to be repositionned in France metropole, or to recreate a new business, or to accept any job for the poorests, but only those of middle class, ingeneeer style, that worked in private Cies, and or for rich industry or land owners, had hard time to find a equivalent positionand they were most likely to seach to emigrate elsewhere. From my experience, the persons I knew in this case had a spanish origin, I bet the french ones could reinserate into the french society, being hosted in first place by their french family Now, Mr know-it-all, what are you going to deduct ? LMAO

Zyme on :

Yes of course, there have been tragic actions in foreign policy long before the war. Austria and Germany (with Turkey) just thought they could do it alone - and they almost did. By risking all, they could either win everything or lose all.

Marie Claude on :

he might look fool but he isn't, just that like lots of our former pieds-noirs, he is flamboyant, also as a small person he has to make more noise to affirm himself, though I wouldn't say that he is refined, I think that "educated" leaders is a lost generation from the former centuries and yes like Zymz says, he push the button a bit further to make people react (anyone else ? me too)

John in Michigan, USA on :

I understand Sarko got support from "pieds-noirs" but he is not one himself, correct? This because the Jewish side of his family is from Greece not Algeria. Or do I misunderstand the concept?

Marie Claude on :

no, but he is much alike, and besides his friends come mainly from this group

John in Michigan, USA on :

Is this a hint I should be posting less "obvious" links? Obama's promise to heal the breach with our allies was a major campaign point. Based on the election results, a lot of people seemed to think that this could be done, simply by choosing Obama over McCain. During the election, these supporters thought that was they were saying was so obvious, it needed no defense, nor any specifics. Are you claiming that this campaign point was obviously wrong? I suppose you could accuse the WSJ, and me, of trying to re-fight the campaign. However, I prefer to think of it as good, journalistic follow-through on a major campaign promise.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ John "Is this a hint I should be posting less "obvious" links?" No, not at all. This WSJ article was interesting. Not that I learned something new. I knew before that "Interest beats affection any time." but I now learned that it is necessary to remind everyone about it. Due to the campaign promises, which apparently folks did believe in. Well they exaggerated them as well. Obama said that America would be respected again, he did not say everybody would follow him, or did he?

Joe Noory on :

Why anyone would think they the respect of dictatorial idiots is beyond me. Sooner or later, Caracas will have to close their borders (or accomplish the same thing in some way that can be concealed) to the outflow of skilled people and their assets.

John in Michigan, USA on :

OK now I see what you are saying.

Don S on :

Obama didn't say that, many Europeans did. Or they implicitly siaid it by telling us (and themselves) that Bush was the entirity of the problem. I can't count the number of times I heard or read that, Joerg. I never believed it, quite, but I saw it repeated so many times I thought there might be a little to it, if not as much as was stated. Judging by the results of the G20, it was and is nonsense; the differences between Europe and the US rest on differences in percieved interests. The big players in the EU do not percieve that they need to give any US President anything of moment in exchange for the US continuing to support the EU and NATO. We'll see. I think the policy of the past few years will be judged shortsighted by historians. NATO can be a reasonably tightly-coupled alliance & be effective, or loosely-coupled and be like the Holy Roman Empire of the 18th Century (which is what it is now). European committment to NATO has been shown to be optional. The US has come to share the same attitude - and the forms that takes will come as a big shock to the EU's leaders when and if the time comes.....

Marie Claude on :

"And what the quote shows is that none of the countries named were able to stop the US invasion and then got their panties in a twist over something that was probably bogus" really ? the following events prove us that we were wise, cuz apart that you hangged a monster, (and there are so many more monsters left free in the world) the situation is back to the starting block, the Iraki have an artificial democraty, as soon as you'll step out, probably a new tyran will rule the place, but terrorism has increased when you opened the pandorra box, it found its global justification, stigmatise those evil westerners !

Pat Patterson on :

Ok, I'll ask again the same question I asked before on a different thread. Can you give one example, aside from editorial name calling, that shows America followed through by punishing any of the named countries? Trade embargoes, treaties delayed, delegation refused admittance, anything? It should also be noted that at the same time this attribution without citation was floating about there representatives from the CDU speaking to the president to ameliorate the situation. Basically the US yelled "Boo" in a fit of pique and Old Europe didn't like the precipice that they were peeking over.

Marie Claude on :

what are you talking about ? Boo, that's apparently make fee great, but it isn't a school yard game, I am afraid I got to tell you that you can't boo anymore, though instead of, you can bow ! while we still can boo LMAO

SLC on :

Joerg: "Why is it necessary to state the obvious?" Sometimes the obvious is inconvenient. And, people so love the inconvenient, don't they?

SC on :

Oops. SLC=SC Gone, but (hopefully) not completely forgotten.

Don S on :

SC, welcome back! How is spring in the Ozarks this year?

SC on :

Hi Don. This past week saw a break in the annual late Spring see-saw as things are settling in warmer now. Spring flowers like daffodils have come and gone; the redbuds are a bit past their prime; dogwoods are entering theirs; and, nearly all the trees are leafing out: this now means weekly trips to the roof to clean off all the accumulated oak fronds as they drop and gather in unwanted places. 'Tis spring in the Ozarks! Amazing that we were within shouting distance of each other in the late '80's.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Welcome back, SC!

SC on :

And hello to you, John.

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