Obama Won’t Buy “Eumerica”

In a clever play on words, Theo Sommer rejects the concept of “Chimerica,” a bipolar order run by the United States and China, as a “chimera” in the March issue of The Atlantic Times, a monthly German English-language newspaper. Sommer, the newspaper’s Executive Editor, is equally dismissive of “Chindia,” a liaison between China and India, and calls for a return to “Eumerica,” which he describes as “a time-honored geopolitical brand [that] may be about to make a comeback.”

Unfortunately, however, President Barack Obama is unlikely to “go for Eumerica.” Although Sommer is quite right that Europe and America should combine their forces to weather the global storms ahead, there is little chance of that happening while Obama remains in the White House. Obama is the first U.S. president since World War II who is not a traditional Atlanticist – indeed he proclaimed himself “the first Pacific president” in Tokyo in November – and he has no instinctive feel or affection for Europe.

While Obama has promised to show a new respect for the rest of the world, Europe has been largely excluded from this apologetic posture. In fact, Obama has constantly shown disdain toward European leaders (ranging from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the King of Norway) and his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel is stiff and cold.

Sommer writes that “Obama’s decision not to attend the U.S.-European Union summit meeting in May is as understandable as the palpable sense of European politicians of having been rudely snubbed.” He is correct that Obama’s decision was understandable. It was actually more than that – an overdue and necessary signal to the European Union that it is does enjoy the global clout to which it aspires.

But this was by no means Obama’s first snub. In addition to the slights to European leaders mentioned above, he downgraded the last EU-U.S. summit in Washington last autumn by moving the meeting from the White House to Blair House (the official presidential guesthouse across the street) and by only attending part of the proceedings. Vice President Joe Biden stood in for him at the main event – the lunch.

Obama subsequently shocked European leaders by muscling aside the European Union at December’s Copenhagen climate summit and stitching up a deal with China and other leading emerging nations – a deal that the EU strongly disliked.

The point is that, while Obama may be snubbing European leaders, the U.S.-EU summits have no content worthy of presidential attention and are examples of the famous EU preference for process over substance in international affairs. There is no reason why the President of the United States should want to meet the odd assortment of EU leaders that attends them. Especially now that the Union has 27 members, Washington is more interested in talking to the main member states, Britain, France, and Germany.

In any case, Obama does not regard Europe as a priority. He does not see the world in terms of the “transatlantic community of values and interests” to which Sommer refers. On the contrary, he is seeking to reshape the world by bypassing Europe and unilaterally seeking new U.S. relations with countries he sees as the main future players, such as China, Russia, Brazil, India – even the Philippines and Indonesia. Despite recent valiant efforts by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resurrect North Atlantic values, Obama is more interested in the developing world than the developed and he does not consider himself the leader of the West, just of America.

 

Written by Reginald Dale