After 69 days in office, US president Barack Obama is preparing a European tour for long-awaited talks with leaders of selected countries. About time, some would say, but the president simply couldn’t ignore the immediate business at hand, as domestic – and global – finances crumbled amid the otherwisely festive “honeymoon”.
In recent days we’ve seen him play down the Iraqi problem, while putting equal emphasis on Afghanistan, planning to deploy thousands of personnel, of which several civil advisers. He’s gearing up to take a lead in environmental questions, scheduling a late April conference i Washington DC, including
- Korea (I assume South)
- Great Britain
- South Africa
- The EU
- The UN
More on the president’s environmental agenda here.
The Washington Post’s Michael D. Shear has an interesting article today, sounding these concerns, among numerous others:
[…] But if the U.S. president thought his popularity would cause foreign governments to fall quickly into line behind a new American leadership, experts warn, he could be in for a rude awakening.
The German government has resisted calls to deploy more combat troops to Afghanistan. Russia is pushing back against a NATO missile defense system in Poland. And the Czech prime minister last week described the U.S. plans for global economic recovery as the “road to hell.”
Thereby touching on the very core of one of our time’s most critical problems; A very plausible revival of the cold war.
As a Norwegian, residing in a country sharing borders with Russia, I can’t even begin to describe the insecurity invoked by Russia’s current military build-up – undoubtedly in response to the NATO missile defence system, in addition to the country’s obvious need to re-enter the global stage as the super power it once was.
However, the days of super powers are counted. The 21st century has brought about a far much more diversified global economy, sporting near super powers, such as China and India, alongside several emerging economies not to be ignored. President Obama is aware of this, as is Dmitry Medvedev (or, really Vladimir Putin). Re-establishing the old-time balance of powers may simply not be the way to go, and yet, in Northen Europe, Russia’s threat is very real, very tangible.
Even if the old super power model has played its role, there’s no denying that America still plays a leading role. Perhaps even more so now, that the country has a president the rest of us respect.
We can only hope for Obama’s willingness to seize that oportunity.
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama (D).