Sunday, April 5, 2009

Irresponsible Media

In The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl argues that we should be troubled by Obama's popularity in Europe. European leaders fawn over Obama, Diehl argues, because Obama is a push-over, conceding American goals and deferring to European aims.

Here is the meat of Diehl's argument:

While the Europeans didn't get all they wanted, they succeeded in setting a framework for responding to the economic crisis that will tilt the global economy toward continental norms. The NATO summit showcased France's return to the alliance's command structure . . . . [And] [l]ess than 2,000 trainers will join the 24,000 American reinforcements arriving in Afghanistan this year.

Obama's deferential approach was manifest in his public statements . . . .

. . . .

Other leaders were less humble; in fact, they appeared eager to exploit Obama's pliability. Sarkozy deemed his demands for more statism "nonnegotiable" and threatened a walkout if they weren't heeded. (They were.)
We can instantly discard Diehl's attack on Obama's "public statements." We should be happy to have a President that avoids alienating our allies with posturing. Obama speaks in terms of compromise, which is a good thing.

The Afghanistan argument is not much better. At the outset, it was obvious that we would not convince other nations to join us in Afghanistan. The world sees that war as a loser, and the world is tired of America's constant call for additional troops. Two thousand trainers should be considered a modest, realistic success.

Most significantly, Diehl's Sarkozy comment is simply disingenuous! In fact, Sarkozy got almost nothing that we wanted! Going into the Summit, Sarkozy threatened to walk out if the twenty countries failed to establish commanding international regulations and an international regulator possessing the power to enter participating countries and enforce the regulations. Instead, Sarkozy received a mere agreement to implement some light regulations. Further, the global regulator idea was abandoned early. Yet, the situation was handled such that Sarkozy left the Summit happy. Source.

In other words, each country gave a little to get a little, including America.

Diehl's thinking appears perfectly suited for the Bush administration: American will make no concessions, and everyone else must relegate their own agendas America's. That has been a disastrous approach to foreign policy, and I am happy that the President has opted to take a more reasoned, moderate approach to international relations.

LATE UPDATE: America and the EU issue a joint statement. It is not enough, but it is a good start.

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