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Obama and his European domino effect
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-07-29 08:47:30
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USA presidential hopeful Barack Obama has managed to gather crowds in Europe, attract all the media attention and make me wonder what the great expectations are or if the Europeans will once more be disappointed, especially since the memory of Jimmy Carter is not so far in the past for most Europeans.

200,000 Berliners gathered expecting another American to say ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ but what they got is ‘I’m American’ and that’s what Europeans have to remember. If Barack Obama becomes the next president of the USA he has to be more American than any other president over the last decades. It's just how we understand this Americanism.

Nixon’s agenda was very American, so was Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s but American was the agenda of Roosevelt and Kennedy as well. And I have often written in the past that the last decade led by George W. Bush has hurt Americanism more than any other American president. His policies and actions have lost allies and most importantly lost the trust of us all.

USA and Europe, to use a cliché, have long been traditional allies but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been competitors as well on many levels. They both have been leading a long race regarding commerce and financial control over the rest of the world; a race that sometimes brought tension with surprising results. It is natural that during those tensions both sides used everything they had including their influence to smaller countries and areas.

Don’t think that Americans are happy with the total control the Europeans have over telephone mobile technology and when you think of this technology remember that the biggest market for both countries for the last decades has been China and they both tried hard to get access to this billion figure market - Europeans are the ones who found the key first with mobile phones and through that they are pushing all kinds of products leaving the Americans far behind. The Americans, on their side, control weapons, another element to open markets and they are both victims of the Arabs through the oil market.

The European states are again often sharing in their relationship with the USA, the UK, especially during Tony Blair’s era, nearly became the 51st star of the US flag and the British left soccer to learn baseball. The French and Germans have shown more dignity by vetoing occasionally some of the American decisions and causing a lot of controversy on the American side with their reaction to the Iraq war and invasion.

The European Union remained numb most of the time led by two men you could easily call pawns of the American policy. Solana and Barroso, often with their decisions, remind me of employees of the American administration rather than leaders of the European Union, after all that’s why Solana left his comfortable seat in NATO to obey his master’s voice, to be the American hand inside European politics. Barroso, the failed Portuguese politician who turned president of the EU, has one and only one dream, to be American.

What remains? The European public, this very same public that gathered in Berlin to see the presidential hopeful for the US elections. This crowd doesn’t really mean much for the US hopeful, and I’m not talking only about Berlin but the general reaction Obama’s visit brought in Europe. This crowd means a lot for the European politics and politicians because what the man mainly brought was the air of change and hope that he will work like a domino effect and bring the change to the European politics also.

Perhaps that’s the message the crowds are trying to pass and perhaps this means the beginning of the end of all the politics as we know them.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-07-29 12:27:00
Yes, Senator Obama did in fact say that he is an American. What else could he say. One can imagine the reaction of the McCain campaign had he said “I am a European” or even “Ich bin Berliner,” or worse, if he had said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which means I am a jelly donut. However, in fairness to Obama it must be pointed out that he has also used from time to time a more inclusive identity: “I am a citizen of the world.” I suspect that the Republicans will use that too against him. One can hear echoes of it on Fox News which in the last few days has had the likes of Amity and O’Reilly imply that 80% or so approval in France should be considered a red flag in the US against a US presidential candidate.

And this brings us to a cautionary tale for the Europeans. Ominously the Gallop poll yesterday put McCain ahead by few point over Obama. This is disturbing because it has happened before in 2004. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-29 12:27:37
One of the greatest scurrilous charges against Kerry, who was largely perceived in Europe as the inevitable next president after four disastrous years with Bush, was that his wife spoke French and he was a great friend to Michael More who in gathering his Cannes award for his anti-Bush movie Fahrenheit 350 had been perceived by some super patriots to be disloyal and anti-American. In other words, any perceived “assistance” that the European intelligentsia may lend to the democratic nominee at this crucial time may end up backfiring if it strengthens the image that the republicans wish to draw: that he is a far left extremist and somehow not 100% American. That was exactly the charge against Kerry and unfortunately it worked. Let’s hope it does not happen again, for it would bitterly disappoint many Europeans who will be affected by it, and many Americans too.

Another caveat, for those Europeans who dream of the time when American will resemble more Europe, or vice-versa, is that of a French journalist who said this on American TV: Europeans have to understand that while America may be the daughter of Europe, that daughter left home in the 18th century and has not come home since.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-29 18:30:39
Errata above: the title of Michael More's movie is Faherenheit 9/11.

thepoliticalcat2008-07-30 20:38:46
Why is it that when Europe manages to acquire a practical monopoly on telephone sales in China, you view this as an earned result of European ingenuity; yet when the Arabs sell the only product on which they have a monopoly and on which the industries of Europe and America are based, you view this as "victimization?"

That said, Obama is held to a different set of standards than any other American candidate for the Presidency has ever been. He is changing America even as he changes the rest of the world. Wish him well, because I do not believe any other candidate has the ability to change the hellbent course to destruction that is the legacy of George W. Bush.

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