Saturday, August 02, 2008

What Do the Germans Think of Obama?

(cross-posted at Naked Capitalism)

Following a whirlwind global tour, US media coverage would have one believe that Mr Obama had wowed Europe's most important nation. However, a close look by Der Spielgel at German reactions to Obama suggests they are rather cautious and less then-than-enthusiastic across the German political spectrum, though for far different reasons than American skeptics. Why? 'Continuation of The War on Terror' rhetoric and its implied obligations along with an expectation of increased commitments to Afghanistan are seemingly their prime concerns. Read the entire article in Der Spiegel's Obama Summary
(hat tip to Ben Carliner)


Adrem said...

For some years now the Europeans have been dodging hard decisions on global issues. They'd rather America took the flak. Instead, in a paddy, they have stamped their little feet - we don't like Mr Bush so there! Mr Obama steps up to the plate and tells them their bogeyman has gone and it is now time to behave like proper grown-ups and the Europeans don't like it.

Darkness said...

There's some truth to Adrem's comment, but I'd temper it by pointing out that the position Europe usually takes is the low-energy one. That the U.S. gets to collect the flying shrapnel is just a bonus that makes them seek the low-energy position again the next time as a lesson learned in doing otherwise. Europe is only a loose coalition and that does not make it easy to cobble together group-think stands on principal.

The less charitable part of me also has to point out that if the Turks are too swarthy for the Germans, then Obama has a steep Alp to climb on that front too. They need time to hear him out and see past that like the American blues musicians they embrace so widely. If they are only thinking of losing a scapegoat here, as Adrem says. I don't see that yet, maybe later on. That's a far second to the long worldwide nightmare ending. Honestly, I'd think it more likely they are making sure that by looking askance at Obama, they don't inadvertently taint his red state appeal, a la, Kerry having to pretend he did not speak French. That got a lot of coverage in Europe under the banner of "The horror of Americans' incomprehensible willful ignorance and cultural insularism". (Not that they aren't guilty of that themselves, but they operate under a myth that assures them otherwise.) So, I'd believe they feel it their duty to sound critical for the American soundbite machine. And it lets them feel grown up and serious, too, while doing it.