Daniel Korski

Not yet a post-American Europe

Not yet a post-American Europe
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I'm in Brussels where the only news is Obama's cancellation of a trip to Madrid to join an annual EU-US confab.  The FT's Gideon Rachman explains the anxiety caused by the decision:

'There is no doubt that the Spanish government, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU (You thought it had been abolished? Fooled you!), will treat this as a bitter blow. The Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero was royally snubbed by George W. Bush and so it was really important to him to underline that he has a great relationship with the sainted Obama. (...)

The Spanish are not the only Europeans feeling snubbed by Obama. The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, was enraged when - on a recent trip to Washington - Obama failed to schedule a lunch with him, and the Commission president was fobbed off with Joe Biden.'

There is no doubt that the US is undergoing a strategic redirection, with the President more concerned about China than Europe. Witness the clumsy handling of missile defence, for example, or that he always gives the word to China first in meeting he chairs, like the G20 in Pittsburg.

But the Europeans have not exactly showed themselves to be easy partners - whether in NATO, EU or bilaterally. European governments weren't exactly rushing to help Obama with Guantanamo.

I wonder whether the bout of euro-pessimism is not a bit misplaced. In one year, Obama went to London, Strasbourg, Oslo, Prague, Copenhagen (twice) and will go to Lisbon later this year - that's probably more than any first-term, first-year US president. So he is skipping Madrid - big deal.

Has Spain, a country that sometimes seems to want to be part of NATO and the Non-aligned Movement, done anything to deserve the extra US attention? And anyway, America is getting used to a post-American world - so should Europe.