Foreign Policy

Europe’s Obama Fatigue
Foreign Policy

Bush was better for Europe. No, seriously.

Despite George W. Bush’s defiant « you’re with us or you’re against us » public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and paying little attention to Europe. And Europe is taking a hint.

The Europeans are particularly irritated that the luncheon [U.S.-EU summit] will be hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden rather than the U.S. president himself. Under the previous administration, Bush regularly presided.

On Afghanistan, which all agree is the alliance’s most critical mission, the Europeans are also feeling a bit lorded over. As Jackson Diehl put it, the region’s leaders are « frustrated that they must watch and wait — and wait and wait — for the [U.S.] president to make up his mind. »

It would be ironic, indeed, if the Europeans started longing for the good old days of the Bush administration. But that nostalgia is closer than you might think.