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President Obama and Europe

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International and a volunteer for Senator Obama's presidential campaign, discusses in the following guest blog post the likely development of transatlantic relations in an Obama presidency:

Recently Stern Magazine polled German readers concerning who they supported in the US primaries in the race for president.   Barack Obama was the clear preference.  You could say that Obamamania has gripped Europe just as it has much of America.  Many Germans share the view of Elmar Brok - a German member of the European Parliament- that "Obama's candidacy is romantic".

But would an Obama administration meet the expectations of his European fans?  Or is this a case of "be careful what you wish for" and the reality of a President Obama will disappoint? 

Obama has said very little about his views on Europe and transatlantic relations.  The focus of his campaign has understandably been on his plans to end the war in Iraq and his policies for addressing the economic meltdown in the US.  But he has written and spoken enough about foreign policy to provide some clues on his approach to Europe:

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Ronald Asmus' Strategy for the West: Expand East

Ronald Asmus has a new “grand strategy” for the west: it should continue to expand eastward (see Foreign Affairs, subscription only):
The challenge of securing Europe’s eastern border from the Baltics to the Black Sea has been replaced by the need to extend peace and stability along the southern rim of the Euro-Atlantic community—from the Balkans across the Black Sea and further into Eurasia, a region that connects Europe, Russia, and the Middle East and involves core security interests, including a critical energy corridor.  Working to consolidate democratic change and build stability in this area is as important for Western security today as consolidating democracy in central and eastern Europe was in the 1990s.
The west’s most important accomplishment following the Cold War has been its integration of central and eastern European countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union—countries that have undergone significant reforms to be accepted into NATO and the EU.  It is interesting that despite the ubiquitous negative publicity NATO is receiving these days, due largely to a perceived lack of teamwork in Afghanistan, there are several countries that continue to fervently seek membership—take the 71 percent of Georgian’s who endorsed NATO membership in a January referendum for example (see Today’s Zaman). 
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Military Leaders Outline Plan for New Transatlantic Bargain

A group of European and American military leaders co-authored a report that was released last week, titled Toward a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World, Renewing Transatlantic Partnership (PDF version available from CSIS). The top brass – all with NATO experience – argue that the Alliance remains critical to both Europe and the US:
We are convinced that there is no security for Europe without the US, but we also dare to submit that there is no hope for the US to sustain its role as the world’s sole superpower without the Europeans as allies.
The manifesto begins by arguing that many current and future threats – such as terrorism, international crime, demographic shifts, energy security, climate change, etc. – cannot effectively be addressed by any single country on its own. Instead, NATO provides the best opportunity for western countries to address new threats because it "links together a group of countries that share the most important values and convictions and that took a decision to defend those values and convictions collectively."

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War on Terror: Germany Debates Computer Spying

The German equivalent to the Department of Homeland Security has designed a Trojan to help spy on the computers of terror suspects. Spiegel International writes about the debate:

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble insists that such cyber spying would only be carried out in a handful of exceptional cases and would only target those suspected of planning terror attacks. Nevertheless, a debate has erupted in the press as to whether Schäuble -- known for his provocative, America-esque anti-terror tactics -- may have once again overstepped his bounds.
In July, the minister ruffled feathers with suggestions that Germany should consider targeted assassinations of suspected terrorists.

Reuters reports that according to one German paper the proposed law even allows temporary computer spying without a court order.

Once again, similar challenges, suggestions, criticism and debates on both sites of the Atlantic, right?

"Guantanamo in Germany"

The two well-known sociologists Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen claim that their colleagues are being persecuted for the crime of sociology and in the name of the war on terror. Their op-ed in The Guardian has the headline: "Guantánamo in Germany." Yeah, right...
They also claim that the "state of emergency prevails" in Germany, France and the US: "The laws meant for real threats are invoked to counter shapeless fear."

Killer of US Troops Released

Eva Haule of the leftist terrorist group RAF was released on parole on Friday. The court ruled that she no longer presented a threat to society. She has, however, shown no remoarse and has not "shed light on the numerous assassinations carried out by her group, many of which remain unsolved," writes Spiegel International

She was convicted of killing two Americans in a 1985 air base bombing. She was in prison since August 1986.

Will Merkel Request the Extradition of CIA Agents?

Officials in Washington have since realized that the German investigation is more than just a symbolic act. This week in Berlin, a group of senior officials from the interior, foreign and justice ministries will meet to discuss the sensitive issue of how the German government should handle the Munich petition for "arrest for the purposes of extradition." There is general agreement within the government in Berlin that the request should be promptly delivered to the Bush administration, which would be tantamount to an official request for the arrest of the men being sought. (...)
At a recent lunch in the German Embassy in Washington, Michael Hayden, the new CIA director, complained about the "bottomless criticism" from Europe that the US government faces for abducting suspicious Islamists. One US diplomat calls Germany's approach the "German double standard."
On the one hand, he says, the Germans seek to benefit from information gleaned by the CIA. On the other, they are careful to keep their hands clean. According to US diplomats, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made it clear to her German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that the investigations of the agents present a serious problem.
Apparently, the German prosecutors discovered the real names of the CIA pilots involved in the "renditions":
The US agents were not as smart as the police had assumed -- or perhaps criminally negligent. Thanks to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), all it took was a simple computer search for the investigators in Old Europe, without any official assistance from the US Department of Justice, to determine the real names of "Captain James Fairing," "Eric Fain" and "Kirk James Bird."
UNRELATED: "Verboten: Germany Bans Tom Cruise" reports ABC News:
Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

Some Religious Interpretations Have a Bad Influence in Germany

No religious folks in the former GDR? Think again! "A school in the eastern German city of Chemnitz has taken the Harry Potter books off its syllabus, after Christian parents objected on religious grounds," writes DW World.
The Atlantic Review has written about similar cases in the US: Challenged Books and the "Banned Books Week".

Another uproar: "Politicians, lawyers and migrants' groups in Germany were incensed over a German judge's decision to reject a divorce case, saying the Koran permits husbands to beat their wives," reports DW World.