Just Not Into You: A Letter to Europe

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

Norway stunned the world by awarding the coveted Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, who was nominated for the honor after being in office less than two weeks. But the award is in keeping with Europeans’ behavior over these first nine months of Obama’s presidency. They’ve gone gaga over the guy.

In return, however, their crush is not quite being reciprocated.

Obama did his best to avoid British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the recent G-20 summit. The tabloids in Britain still whine about the tawdry gifts the cool Obama gave Brown when he came to Washington earlier this year.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy — ogled by the global press as a rock star before Obama replaced him — seems schizophrenic in his attitude toward the president — fawning over him one minute, exasperated with him the next. The press there calls the syndrome Sarkozy’s “Obama complex.”

At the U.N., he was so frustrated by Obama’s soaring but empty rhetoric that he finally blurted out about Iran and North Korea: “President Obama dreams of a world without weapons . . . but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.”

Sometimes this European exasperation goes deeper than just unrequited love. Obama promised the Russians he would not deploy a planned anti-missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Whether intended or not, that decision was seen as a snub. And it scared many in Eastern Europe — given their long, unhappy history with Russia.

Obama earlier this year gave enthusiastic pep talks to our NATO allies, urging them to send more troops to Afghanistan. Yet right now he is wavering on the critical question of doing the same himself.

Europe was said to have hated George W. Bush. But in President Bush’s second term, friendly governments in Britain, France, Germany and Italy could count on American support in any crisis that might threaten the wealthy but defenseless European Union. Now, with Obama’s real interests unclear, these countries are, like spurned teenage lovers, acting out their worries in neurotic fashion.

Sometimes love-struck Europe gets sassy and slights its indifferent heartthrob. Obama flew into Copenhagen for an hour, thought he could charm the infatuated Europeans who dominate the International Olympic Committee to give Chicago the 2016 Games, and then blithely jetted out — only to learn on his way home that his hometown bid had been rejected.

At other times, as with the Nobel Peace Prize, a gushing and desperate Europe gives him almost anything to gain his affection and attention. Now that Obama has been granted the award, the Norwegians are babbling about “vision” and “hope” rather than real achievement as the basis for their decision.

Perhaps the tiny country hopes that if it gives Obama an award for utopian pacifism, then he most surely will have to act like a European utopian pacifist rather than commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation in history.

A number of things are going on here. America is changing. Millions of Americans now trace their heritages not to Europe, but to Africa, Asia or Latin America. For a generation, the schools have emphasized all sorts of non-Western ethnic studies courses instead of the old core curriculum based on Western civilization.

Obama, with both a Kenyan and Muslim paternity, reflects that trend. For example, one of the first things Obama — the son of a British colonial subject — did as president was remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and send it back to Britain.

China, India and Japan are also collectively larger than Europe and may one day be wealthier as well. We owe most of our debt to non-Europeans, buy our energy from non-Europeans and seem to send our soldiers increasingly far from Europe. Obama’s spurning of Europe reflects the new geopolitics.

Obama poses as the multilateralist, defers to the United Nations and has criticized ossified Cold War-era alliances. Judging by his actions and words, Obama views American habitual protection of an allied but military defenseless Europe as, well, kind of passé.

So get a grip, Europe. Stop it with both the silly fits and the lavish presents. You see, Obama’s America is just not that into you.

©2009 Tribune Media Services

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