Monday, March 8, 2010

Gone, Solid Gone

The New York Times published an op-ed written by Roger Cohen called “Gone, Solid Gone” on March 8, 2010.

Cohen starts the article off with a little joke. Obama calls Herman Van Rompuy and gets his answering machine. The answering machine says, “We are closed for tonight. Please select from the following options. Press one for the French view, two for the German view, three for the British view, four for the Polish view, five for the Italian view, six for the Romanian view…”

When Cohen wrote this, Europe had just selected Van Rompuy as its first President of the European Council. America had hoped that, with this new position, Europe would start adopting some common positions on issues like the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, climate change, and so on, instead of having each country take its own position. As the joke suggests, Europe preferred having each nation take its own position on each issue.

According to Cohen, this made Obama angry.

“The Obama presidency has been a shock to Europe,” said Cohen. “At heart, Obama is not a Westerner, not an Atlanticist.”

“He’s very much a member of the post-Western world,” said Constanze Stelzenmuller, an official at the German Marshall Fund.

This made Europe very angry. Europe felt America had done a bait-and-switch on them.

“Europe, in its widespread contempt for President George W. Bush, saw in Obama a savior who would restore trans-Atlantic ties,” said Cohen.

Boo hoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.

“Europe needs to get over America to discover itself,” said Cohen. “That discovery might provide a basis for strong ties going forward.”

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