We have previously introduced the idea of the awkward squad (see post). These are the European nations that are likely to provide resistance to the Obama agenda. The UK is likely to oppose on economic policy, Germany on foreign and military policy, and France in the area of diplomacy. To achieve his agenda, President Obama will have to act with great subtlety to woo the awkward squad.
It is a shame that he appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Mrs Clinton still occupies the mindset of the 1990s, which is starting to damage the Obama Presidency. As an example, there is a new framework for tripartite security talks between the US, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (see report). The problem with this is that the mission to Afghanistan is a NATO mission, not a US mission.
It sends the signal that the US is not willing to work in conjunction with its NATO partners and that the role of the European nations is to provide troops for the US to use as it wills. The response from the awkward squad is one that is unwilling to co-operate with the US. For example, Germany has refused to allow the NATO Response Force to be used to provide security during the forthcoming Afghan elections (see story).
None of this is helpful to President Obama, who needs the awkward squad to provide more troops to Afghanistan. If they don't, then the US will become even more bogged down in a war that cannot be won. At a time when the European allies need to be engaged, the Clintonista swagger of the 1990s is particularly unhelpful.