Vice-President Biden’s speech today at the Munich Security Conference was meant to spell out the kind of partnership that Obama wants between the United and Europe. The tone was very different from the Bush administration, with a lot of stress on the new beginning and how America wants to listen and the like, but the overall agenda seems similar: America wants Europe to step up in Afghanistan.
The remarks on Russia are dominating the headlines. But what grabbed my attention was how explicit Biden was about Afghanistan and Pakistan strategies now being one. As Biden put it:
no strategy for Afghanistan, in my humble opinion, can succeed without Pakistan.
I suspect, though, that it is this line which will have grabbed our Prime Minister’s attention:
President Obama looks forward to taking our message to the G20 meeting in London in April.
It is also worth noting that the speech contained a statement that the US would act unilaterally if necessary and that
“In the Muslim world, a small — and I believe a very small — number of violent extremists are beyond the call of reason. We will, and we must, defeat them.”
For all the differences in presentation, style and language, there is a considerable amount of continuity between the Bush and Obama approaches to foreign policy.