Thursday, 22 January 2009

Chalk One Up For The Awkward Squad

In a recent post (see post) we reflected that the group who will prove troublesome to President Obama is already taking form. One of the problems that President Obama faces is the ability to galvanise the European nations to follow an American agenda. It was put to me recently that "Europe is no longer willing to have its wars declared in Washington".

Whilst Europe would broadly support the objectives of the President, when it actually comes to committing troops, it is a different story. Germany is well known for not being willing to commit more troops to Afghanistan. It now appears that France is unwilling to commit further troops to Afghanistan (see report).

This causes a problem for the new President because it keeps the US committed to an expensive overseas engagement at a time when America might like to scale back its commitment. Perhaps the honeymoon is coming to an end?


Aric said...

I don't have the data to back this up or the understanding to write a coherent piece about it, but I have a sense that most of the world has stopped following the United States.

After WW2 the US was a the country to emulate. Now Europe will be happy to work with the US toward common goals, but will not the them set the goals. China thinks it has learned everything worthwhile from the west and will set its own course. Much of Africa looks favorably toward China as a partner and mentor for development.

America's confidence in its own ideas and institutions was contagious, but has now been shown to be (at least partly) delusional. With new US leadership and a new direction the world will again look favorably on America but it will no long think that we know what we are doing better than they do.

Stephen Aguilar-Millan said...

Dear Aric,
Thank you for your comments. Some of the empirical base can be found through the Pew international comparisons.
As it happens, our next substantive piece is all about US soft power, so watch this space ....
With best wishes,