Hoping For Better Weeks Ahead

The conventional wisdom is that Obama’s recently concluded eight-day trip to Europe was his “best week”. It’s too bad that an historic President has to have his best week away from the United States. Europe still loves President Obama as much as they did candidate Obama. But this trip was not perfect by any means.

The conventional wisdom is that, while the Europeans were favorably disposed toward Obama, the President secured very little in the way of his objectives, which is not to say that hopes were high. Europe is still Europe.

The stories suggest that Obama’s conciliatory tone went over better than Bush’s ultimatums. Funny, but I don’t quite remember it that way. I recall the Bush administration spending months to convince our allies to put teeth in resolutions against Saddam. And I remember that it was French (and Russian) intransigence that doomed such resolutions. We were most disappointed in France. Remember “Freedom Fries”? At the time, we had no idea that the Oil For Food Scandal would implicate several French diplomats.

While on the trip, North Korea launched its missile in defiance of the international community. This seems to have taken the Obama administration by surprise because their response has not exactly been coordinated and consistent.

In Turkey, Obama struck another conciliatory tone. He had to state, in no uncertain terms, that the United States was not at war with Islam. Maybe Muslims are genetically pre-disposed to hearing loss, because I have heard this stated many times by George Bush. Rather being at war with Islam, the United States is actually Islam’s biggest benefactor, having gone to war about six times in the past 20 years to liberate Muslims. I’d be please if the President demanded a collective note of appreciation. Instead, In Turkey, Obama Reaches Out to Muslim World (Washington Post, April 7) tells us

“Obama wants to use Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan as shields for American soldiers,” said Burak Gunes, 21, an international relations student at a local university. “America killed millions of people in Iraq, so the Turkish people do not have any tolerance for the United States of America.”

Dogu Ergil, a professor of political science at Ankara University, said the protesters “represent nothing” of mainstream Turkish thinking.

“There are fringe groups everywhere who think America is the devil,” he said, noting that a recent opinion poll showed that 52 percent of Turks had a favorable opinion of Obama. “If he wanted to be a candidate, he could be elected and become the next president of Turkey!”

An international relations student at a local university is so ignorant that he actually believes that we want to use Turkish soldiers as shields? And he trots out the discredited figure of millions killed in Iraq (by the United States!)? What rubbish. And, sadly, what an archetype.

And Obama only garners a 52 percent favorable rating? How is that even possible? I think that the number is artificially low because of Obama’s previous comments on the Armenian genocide.

Obama finished his trip with an unannounced trip to Iraq. Inasmuch as he was willing to throw Iraq (and the Middle East) into chaos through precipitous troop withdrawals, I found this ironic. Why not Afghanistan?

I hope Obama has many weeks better than that one.

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