Obama's right to skip U.S.-EU summit
“Obama disses Europe.” That, more or less, is how Europeans have described the American president’s decision not to attend the annual U.S.-EU summit, which had been scheduled for May. Some use more polite language -- the president is variously said to be “skipping“ the summit or “bowing out“ of the summit -- but the most common verb deployed is “snubbed," as in this emotional Daily Telegraph headline: “Barack Obama snubs EU summit.”
Following this announcement, the summit was canceled.
Which is just as well: The president is absolutely right to ignore what would certainly have been another boring meeting, accompanied by excellent food and inconsequential conversation. I write here as a paid-up Europhile, but also as a Europhile who is thoroughly fed up with Europe’s inability to come up with a united front in its dealings with Russia, a common energy policy, and a more forthright commitment to Afghanistan -- or anywhere else.
More to the point, I am fed up with the endless procedural debates. For a decade, Europe’s leaders wrangled over a constitution -- now called the Lisbon Treaty -- that was supposed to give the continent a clearer voice in international affairs. But when it finally came down to selecting a president and a foreign minister of Europe, the Europeans punted. They chose two perfectly nice, perfectly bland, and completely unknown politicians, neither of whom has yet said or done anything of any consequence. In other words, the real leaders of Europe -- Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France -- don’t want the continent to have a foreign policy at all. But if they don’t want to speak in unison, then why should the American president pretend to listen? He can get a lot more done by calling up Merkel, Sarkozy or Britain’s prime minister for the occasional off-the-record chat.
It didn’t have to be this way: A year ago, at the start of this administration, Europeans had a chance to make a real impression in Washington. All doors were open, all ears were listening, any European coalition that had wanted to help solve one or more of the world’s security issues would have been granted carte blanche.
Nothing happened, no such coalition emerged, and the window of opportunity closed. The president now has his mind on other things. His failure to turn up isn’t a “snub,” it’s a thoroughly rational decision.
Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 3, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: pl1123 | February 3, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wjc1va | February 3, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: alance | February 3, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: scottdavene | February 3, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MumboJumboo | February 3, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Billy_Pilgrim | February 4, 2010 5:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tspafford | February 4, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.