Euro-tripping with Barack Obama
Barack Obama won’t be speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after all, but his upcoming trip to Europe is still a huge deal. What should the senator be thinking about before he goes? Here are a few diplomatic overtures I’d recommend: Acknowledge the importance of U.S.-European relations. Many of your outlined goals for making ...
Barack Obama won't be speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after all, but his upcoming trip to Europe is still a huge deal.
Barack Obama won’t be speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after all, but his upcoming trip to Europe is still a huge deal.
What should the senator be thinking about before he goes? Here are a few diplomatic overtures I’d recommend:
- Acknowledge the importance of U.S.-European relations. Many of your outlined goals for making the United States safer — e.g. defeating al Qaeda, stabilizing Afghanistan, and preventing Iran from getting the bomb — are going to require close cooperation with Europe. You don’t have a great record of paying attention to the region, having been there once in the past decade (and having never called a single meeting of the Senate Foreign Relation’s subcommittee on Europe). Put some meat on your vow to reach out to America’s closest allies, but don’t get too lovey-dovey. Proclaiming "Je suis un Français" in front of the Arc de Triomphe would probably hurt your chances in November.
- Listen to what Europeans tell you about integration and the thorny issues, like immigration, that go along with it. Your rhetoric on NAFTA show that you’ve got some learning to do here, and Europeans have been doing the whole "regional integration" thing for decades. But don’t be afraid to challenge European mindsets, either — sadly, many still think a minority candidate could never be elected in their country.
- Stopping in London, Paris, and Berlin is all well and good, but passing up Brussels? The heart of the EU is where the region’s major policies — like those on trade, immigration, and the environment — are actually molded into shape. Be careful about weighing in on contentious topics like the Lisbon Treaty, but a trip to EU headquarters next time would send the right signal. Plus, you could work in a plea for unity given the ongoing turmoil over the Belgian PM’s resignation. Just don’t get caught drinking any Stella Artois or you can kiss Missouri goodbye.
- And hey, how about a shoutout to the new EU members? Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and other eastern European nations have experienced major economic growth in the past several years and have seriously stepped up their trade with the United States since 2000. It’s too late to add any more stops to your itinerary, but acknowledging these rising European stars would underline your call for "supporting Europe’s strategy of enlargement."
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