President Sarkozy gets a dozen standing ovations from Congress. And Chancellor Merkel gets to stay at Bush's ranch in Crawford, which is supposed to be some high honor bestowed upon only President Bush's very best allies.
Will this charm offensive result in better transatlantic relations?
I seriously doubt that Merkel feels all warm and fuzzy now, although that seems to have been the purpose of the invite to Crawford. Likewise, I doubt whether ex-Chancellor Schroeder was saddened when President Bush gave him the cold shoulder treatment. I think the White House exaggerates the power of such symbolism. European politicians are not going to be more supportive of the US because of a visit to Crawford or standing ovations. Has the charming worked in the US? Le Figaro (translation at TMV) opines that Sarkozy accomplished his goal of "conquering the hearts of Americans." Apparently, it is not so difficult to impress Americans these days:
In a country that finds it hard to believe how disliked around the world it has become, it was refreshing to hear a foreigner from the Old Continent express himself with such sincerity on the often-disparaged anthem of the American dream.
Le Figaro concludes: "The unanimous enthusiasm of Congress shows that the plan for seduction was a success. This also suggests that its effects will not be short-lived." Likewise, USA Today and the Associated Press celebrate the asssumed US and French agreements.
I disagree with Le Figaro and share The Economist's skepticism regarding transatlantic relations: "A renewed friendship between America and its once-tricky partners may prove to be longer on style than substance." Is Washington desperate for better relations with Old Europe?
Come back, old Europe, all is forgiven: that seemed to be the tune playing in Washington this week as the leaders of France and Germany-countries once despised by American hawks for their churlish refusal to back the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq-were received with a mixture of fanfare and homespun warmth by George Bush.
The Economist also has a word of caution for the Democrats and the Europeans, who long for a Democratic president:
Philip Gordon, a veteran Europe-watcher and adviser to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, says that even under a Democratic president there would be a risk of disappointment. Europeans would expect a Democratic president to give ground to their concerns over say, climate change, and Americans would expect better co-operation over Iran and Afghanistan. But such hopes could all too easily be dashed.
Andrew Purvis writes about the Merkel visit to Crawford in Time Magazine:
The transatlantic love-fest will be put to the test in Crawford, where Merkel, known in Germany as the Queen of the Backroom for her softly-softly negotiating style, is expected to warn Bush about the "catastrophic" consequences of a military strike on Iran. Bush, for his part, will urge the European leader to pursue tougher economic sanctions against Tehran, regardless of whether the U.N. Security Council follows suit. Germany has significant trade ties with Iran and has until now resisted pressure to ratchet up sanctions outside of the U.N. framework.
And Nile Gardiner has recycled his usual Heritage advice: "The Bush-Merkel Summit: Washington Must Pressure Berlin Over Iran."
Have you seen any good analysis or commentary on the Sarkozy's and Merkel's visits to the US?