Why Do Europeans Love Obama?
Let us count the ways:
1) Obama’s tax code, support of big government programs and
redistribution of income, and subservience to UN directives delight the
European masses—especially at a time when their own governments are
trying to cut taxes, government, seek closer relations with the US, and
ask a petulant, pampered public to grow up.
2) He offers Euros a sort of cheap assuagement of guilt—in classic
liberal style. When Obama says falsely that he does not look like other
Americans who have addressed Germans (cf. Colin Powell or Condoleeza
Rice who have represented US foreign policy abroad the last 7 years),
Europeans feel especially progressive—and therefore need not worry that
no one of African ancestry would ever become a European Prime- or
3) Europe is weak militarily and won’t invest in its own defense.
But with Obama, they believe the US will subject its enormous military
strength to international organizations—usually run by utopian
Europeans. So they will play a thinking-man’s Athens to our muscular
Rome. They especially lap up Obama’s historical revisionism in which he
lectures about the world’s effort to feed Berlin or tear down the
communist wall, never the solitary, lonely efforts of a Harry Truman or
Ronald Reagan to confront the evils of communism when almost everyone
else preferred not to.
4) Style, style, style. Remember socialist Europe is where we get
our designer eyeglass frames, Gucci bags, and French fashions. Instead
of a strutting, Bible-quoting Texan, replete with southern accent and
‘smoke-em’ out lingo, they get an athletic, young, JFK-ish metrosexual,
whose rhetoric is as empty as it is soothing. The English-only Obama
lectures America on its need to emulate polyglot Europe; while a
Spanish-speaking George Bush is hopelessly cast as a Texas yokel.
5) Obama reassures Europeans that they, not American right-wingers,
“won” the classical debates of the 1990s over economics, foreign
policy, and government. He is a world citizen, who buys into
human-created massive global warming, wind and solar over nuclear and
clean coal, high taxes, and cradle-to-grave entitlements, and
resentments of the rich. There is a certain European “We told you so”
that comes with his election. In short, we elect a world citizen with a
European view, and put behind us the embarrassments of a Texan or
The final irony?
The hated George Bush is still around; Chirac, Schroeder, Villapin
et al. are history. Iraq is secure. Iran is becoming isolated. North
Korea supposedly is denuked. And America is reassuring a jittery Europe
that we will stick by them in a world of bullying Russians and Chinese.
A Modest Prediction
In 5 years, Europeans will prefer George Bush to a “We are right behind you” Obama.
What a difference a year makes!
A little more than a year ago most Americans—and nearly all the
Democratic opposition in Congress—opposed the surge of troops into Iraq
and Gen. David Petraeus’s change of tactics.
The conventional wisdom after four long years of war was that we
were stuck in the middle of a hopeless civil war. There was no American
military solution to quell the violence. The Iraq government was not
only incompetent, but proof that democratic government itself was
incompatible with Middle Eastern culture and religion.
Pundits were advocating trisecting the country into separate Shiite,
Sunni, and Kurdish enclaves. Our presence in Iraq caused us to have
taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, while empowering Iran, and
helping al Qaedi to gain new recruits in a new theater of operations.
Democratic presidential candidates were hammering each other over Iraq
and demanding that those who had voted to authorize the invasion
apologize for their vote. Barack Obama wanted all American troops out
by March 2008.
A New Political Reality
And now? July is closing with the fewest number of American combat
fatalities since the war started. There is no civil war. The Maliki
government has put down Shiite militias and won back Sunnis into the
elected administration, and, as an autonomous and confident government,
is in tense negotiations with the US over future basing of American
troops. Al Qaeda has been humiliated and routed from Iraq. American
troops, versed in counterinsurgency, are being redeployed to
Afghanistan to reapply what worked against jihadists in Iraq.
Iranian-backed militias are being disbanded or have fled back into
Iran. The additional surge troops are now out of Iraq. Democratic
opponents suddenly concede that the withdrawal of American troops
should be predicated on conditions on the ground. Anti-war activists
critique Iraq more as a possibly successful war not worth the human and
material costs rather than an effort long ago lost.
So what happened in the last twelve months to cause such a radical
turn-about in Iraq and here at home? The surge added some needed
troops, but more importantly sent the symbolic message that the United
States was not leaving, but determined—militarily—to defeat terrorists
and give the Iraqi government critical time to consolidate its
The so-called Anbar awakening in which Sunni tribal leaders turned
on al Qaeda and joined forces with us was not caused directly by the
surge, but would have failed without the confidence more Americans were
on the way to support their fight against al Qaeda. Americans began to
turn from counter-terrorism to counterinsurgency tactics that meant
dispersing combat troops out of compounds and into Iraqi neighborhoods
where they could protect Iraqis who resisted terrorism.
Don’t Forget …
Two critical developments are relatively unappreciated, but likewise
proved critical. The first was the continual growth and improvement in
the Iraqi security forces that now include many veteran units that have
learned to confront and defeat terrorists.
Second, between 2003-7 American forces took an enormous toll on
jihadists. We have heard mostly how many Americans have been lost,
rarely how many of the enemy they have killed or wounded—but the
aggregate number is in the tens of thousands. Even in postmodern wars,
there are finite numbers of skilled combatants—and many of them simply
did not survive their encounter with American troops.
None of this volatility is new in American military history. The
American Revolutionary War ebbed and flowed for nine years, variously
pronounced won, lost, and won again. The Union thought it had won, then
had lost, and finally won the Civil War during the last 16 months of
the conflict. The Philippine insurrection, in various phases, lasted 14
years, often praised as won and condemned as lost. No war was more
mercurial than the Korean between 1950-53, in which the American public
was convinced the war was hopeless before it ended in1953 with the
preservation of South Korea.
In most of these struggles, the efforts of just a few rare
individuals—a Washington, Grant, Sherman, Ridgway—proved crucial. We
remember their names, not the thousands of pundits who declared them
incompetent and their wars lost. Long after a Seymour Hersh,
Moveon.org, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Harry Reid and others are
forgotten, Americans will still remember what David Petraeus did for
our country. Amen to that!