President Obama has lavished time and attention on Europe in spades. He made Europe his first foreign port of call after his inauguration and since then has visited at least eight European countries (plus Russia). His popularity ratings in most of Europe, especially in Western Europe, would make the average Hollywood A-lister blush. He has even been referred to in some quarters as “the first European President of America.”
And some in Europe – the utopian European elites and chattering intellectual classes of Brussels – are pretty pleased. President Obama immediately pledged to close Guantanamo. He decried America’s record on ‘torture.’ He reached out to the atomic ayatollahs of Iran. He apologized for America’s arrogance on French soil. And he’s prostrated himself before the sacrosanct United Nations.
But not everyone is happy. He woefully mishandled the shameful surrender of America’s missile defense agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. He threw a bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office and returned it to the British Embassy (it had been given as a gift to the American people in remembrance of 9/11.) He provoked an open letter from 22 Central and Eastern European leaders, including the legendary Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa over his less-than-nuanced Russia-First policies. And he failed to deliver Europe’s sacred cow of an internationally-binding Kyoto II treaty.
However, Obama himself has even less reason to be happy. Despite his never-ending apology tours, Europe has not been more inclined to act. The same NATO members continue to unconscionably shirk their responsibilities in Afghanistan while a scant few share a disproportionate share of the burden. German trade with Iran has increased despite his strategy of threatening future sanctions against Tehran. Russia has run rings around his disarmament agenda. And the European media have unfairly laid the blame for Copenhagen’s failure squarely at Obama’s door.
President Obama gave himself a B+ rating on Oprah Winfrey’s Christmas Special. However, his confused approach to the transatlantic relationship would only score an F for failing to further American interests.