European Fuss Over Obama

Just curious. Do Europeans know better than Americans what’s best for Americans? Or is there something Americans know that Europeans don’t? There are things Americans want to know about Obama but can’t seem to find out, despite all of his mugging for the world. Do Europeans know what those things are? Do they care?

Barack Obama has been enjoying a rock star reception in Germany and elsewhere—so they say. That’s nice. Maybe he missed his calling. At least he knows where he’ll be most welcome if John McCain “steals” the election.

Some Obama supporters seem to think that European fandom is a reason for us to elect Obama. I’ve just returned from a visit over at the Dancing with Fire blog, and Kurt, there, hints at such a thing in a piece titled “Best Defense?”

Obama certainly wants Americans to notice the fanfare, and he hopes this will make him more electable. But there are two questions we need to ask:

  1. What difference does it make whether Obama is a celebrity in Europe?
  2. Why is Obama a celebrity in Europe?

If Americans had solid answers to these questions, European sentiment might actually be a reason to question Obama’s fitness for the job. And Obama has given us more reason to doubt by trotting around Europe instead of joining the debate at home to answer questions that matter to Americans.

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

4 Responses to European Fuss Over Obama

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Hello sagogryn,

    President George W. Bush is not a madman. To call him that is not even fair use of hyperbole. No doubt the President has very definite faults. But let us be reasonable in stating what these are.

    I don’t know what you mean by giving Europe back the America it has been missing. But you seem to place an unqualified premium on preserving an untarnished image among the nations of the world.

    I have two questions for you:

    1. Can you describe any period in American history when the United States has been regarded the way you think we should be and will be if Obama becomes President? (In your calculations, may I encourage you not to overlook the important case of France?)

    2. Must Americans be held hostage to popular opinion in Europe on every point of foreign policy?


  2. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Kurt,

    As allies, of course European nations and the United States have interests in common. But as in all cases historically, alliances have been made on the basis of interests peculiar to each state.

    We were allies with Russia, led by Stalin, during World War 2, in order to have a better chance of defeating the Nazis. But our leaders held their noses while they carried out this bargain. Our shared interests were very specific and narrow. The allies may not have won the war without partnership with Russia. But suppose they would have. There almost certainly would not have been a cold war of the likes we experienced during ensuing decades. At least, Europe would not have been carved up as it was.

    I’m not making an argument that our alliances with European nations are based on the same principles that grounded our alliance with Russia during World War 2. I’m just pointing out that alliances serve limited, and often temporary, purposes.

    The point is, we have interests that are not shared by our European friends. Even the European Union, which is much more than an alliance, has had to confront the challenge of conflicting interests among member nations.

    It shouldn’t take much imagination to think of American interests that do not overlap with European interests; some may even conflict with European interests.


  3. Kurt says:

    “Maybe the American people know more than their European allies about what’s best for the American people. Or do you suppose that our allies are thinking primarily in terms of our best interests, and not their own?”
    To answer your question, they are our ALLIES!
    That means we have SHARED INTERESTS!


  4. sagogryn says:

    After suffering a madman like Dubya and the damage he has done to the image of the US. the class. energy and charisma of Obama gives
    Europe back what it has been missing, the America we have always loved.


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