Mr. Obama goes to Europe

Posted May 25, 2011 on 1:33 pm | In the category Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

President Obama has set aside 6 days for a foray into europe, a respectable amount of time, though less than what he spent in Asia last year. He’s visited Ireland with a somewhat dubious bit of the old Irish blarney, but, like Kennedy, Reagan and Mulroney before him, he seemed to genuinely enjoy a stop in a small-town pub that some ancestor had once frequented, at the same time demonstrating that an Amurcan of power receives a friendlier reception on the emerald island than does the queen of England.

But now comes the hard part for the president. A cheerleading speech before the British parliament could not really paper over the obvious cracks in the wall of NATO solidarity, once the proof of “western” superiority in the world. Economically that is obviously no longer the case as southern europe risks falling off into Mediterranean bankruptcy, held together only by the rapidly disintegrating good will of the sole european industrial society that continues to produce economically at previous levels – Germany. In fact German production has been dramatically successful since it came out of the recession, while Spain has 20% unemployment, Greece is hardly functioning at all and France and Italy stagger along with governments that can’t even control their own leaders’ personal behaviour. Soon this part of the world will only have 7% of the world’s population, and if it cannot act with a common cause, it is going to become increasingly sidetracked as a world power leaving only the nuclear-weapon countries and Germany to have some weight to throw around.
For his part, Obama is not stopping in germany, a snub the Germans have of course noted, and they think they know. Nobody will admit it, but it is because Germany, siding with Russia and China, declined to take part in the bombing of Ghaddafi’s Libya. Considered an act of betrayal by Germany’s NATO allies, led in bellicosity by the old colonial powers in the Arab world, the UK and France, many Germans also felt unease with Chancellor Merkel’s decision, though the stalemate that has developed certainly there makes that decision more defensible, and the US has also declined to play a a leading role in the military action. What this scenario does bring into focus is the fact that western Europe and North America ( the US and Canada have a similar relation to the Libyan campaign), no longer have a common policy to the rest of the world. These bases have become less important to each other and the rest of the world has become more important to them and vice verse. Canada, in particular, looks to Asia for its future economic and industrial connections, and, from the other side of the world, so does Germany. The common vote by China, Russia and Germany to not get involved in the Libyan campaign, may be more than just a surprising lapse in west European solidarity. It may be a sign of the future.

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