Election américaine: Le triomphe de tous les quiproquos (When European Obamamania turns out to be anyone-but-Bush-mania by another name)

Master crowd pleaser Obama in Germany

So there are likely limits to German Obamamania, which is anyone-but-Bush-mania by another name. Matthew Kaminski
Barack Obama a trouvé son peuple. Mais, manque de chance pour son avenir électoral, c’est des Allemands, pas des Américains. James Sturcke (The Guardian)
Je trouve amusant que certains de ceux qui critiquent le gouvernement américain actuel pour son manichéisme – sa division du monde en bien et mal – attribuent eux-mêmes tout le mal passé à Bush et tout le bien futur à Obama. (…) car il n’y pas un seul président américain depuis Eisenhower qui ne s’est pas retrouvé, à un moment ou un endroit de la planète ou un autre, caricaturé en cowboy chevauchant un missile phallique. C’est arrivé à Bill Clinton quand il a bombardé l’Irak ; ça arrivera à M. Obama quand ses renforts en Afghanistan ou au Pakistan prendront une réunion de chefs tribaux pour une réunion imprudente de Talibans et d’Al-Qaeda. (…) Ainsi Barack Obama, fêté par la planète entière, apprendra un jour qu’il n’y a aucun traitement magique contre l’envie des autres. Ce qui fait de l’Amérique la puissance indispensable (et encore plus nécessaire dans l’ère de la nouvelle Chine) est précisément ce qui rend l’anti-américanisme inévitable. David Aaronovitch (The Times)

Après le matraquage de nos chers médias sur le « triomphe européen » du candidat démocrate et leur très significatif silence radio sur les raisons (trop peu flatteuses?) de la réduction au service minimum de l’étape française …

Retour sur la salutaire remise des pendules à l’heure du WSj d’avant-hier sur quelques aspects peu soulignés de son étape justement la plus « triomphale », à savoir l’Allemagne.

Où, emportés par l’enthousiasme du public pour son numéro d’illusionniste munichois, nos médias se sont généralement bien gardés d’insister sur les raisons de l’accueil beaucoup plus mesuré des dirigeants eux-mêmes.

Ainsi, derrière les paroles convenues et la démagogie facile (pour une prétendue réconciliation transatlantique déjà faite depuis… deux ans !), le point central du message du candidat américain était une demande d’aide à l’Europe pour plus de troupes dans les zones de combat du sud de l’Afghanistan, ce que jusqu’à présent refusent les Allemands.

Mais surtout, sur à peu près tous les autres sujets et à la veille de nouvelles élections l’an prochain, la coalition (conservateurs-sociaux-démocrates) au pouvoir à Berlin est loin d’être à l’unisson.

Ainsi, comme le rappelle le WSJ, le très schroedien numéro deux du gouvernement, le populaire vice-chancelier et ministre des Affaires étrangères Frank-Walter Steinmeier n’est pas exactement pro-américain (il fut longtemps le directeur de cabinet de l’ancien chancelier et notoire membre du « camp de la paix » contre l’intervention en Irak – qui se fit élire sur la base d’un virulent antiaméricanisme – jusqu’à, par ministre interposée, comparer Bush à Hitler!).

Et, comme son ancien patron (actuel PDG du consortium pétrolier russe Gazprom) est beaucoup plus proche de la Russie et a déjà torpillé les récentes discussions sur l’entrée dans l’OTAN d’anciens satellites de Moscou.

Sans compter, ce que ne mentionne pas le WSj, qu’il s’était déjà permis de manifester sa différence face à son chef de gouvernement sur la rencontre de celle-ci avec le dalai lama et sur le lieu de discours d’Obama (la chancelière tenant à respecter la tradition qui réserve la porte de Brandebourg aux chefs d’Etat en exercice) …

Obama and the German Question
Matthew Kaminski
The Wall Street Journal
July 25, 2008

Barack Obama soaked up the love yesterday in Berlin. The backdrop, so rich in historical symbolism and television potential, was apt for a reason few acknowledged. Should the Democratic candidate become president and reach out to Europe, Germany will determine how successful he is.

Much has been made of the need to improve America’s image in Europe. This narrative is some two years past its sell-by date. President Bush may not be popular at home or on the Continent, but America is again the ally of choice. On Iran, Russia, China and the Mideast, the big players of the European Union eagerly and pragmatically seek out U.S. leadership; in the surprise twist of this century so far, France leads the way.

Berlin is the exception. Its foreign policy can be charitably described as inconsistent and confused — and infused with a strain of anti-Americanism hard to find among other European ruling elites these days.

Part of the problem is the so-called grand coalition. After an inconclusive election in 2005, Chancellor Angela Merkel shares power with the left-wing opposition. Her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was her predecessor Gerhard Schröder’s chief of staff; in elections due next year, he’ll possibly lead the Social Democrats into battle against her and the Christian Democrats.

Like his previous boss (Mr. Schröder is now on the Kremlin’s payroll at gas giant Gazprom), Mr. Steinmeier nurtures friendly ties with Moscow and is cool toward Washington. Chancellor Merkel’s instincts lead her in an opposite direction, yet she has shown little leadership on foreign policy of late, possibly to avoid a costly fight before elections.

In April, Germany derailed an American push at NATO to reach out to Ukraine and Georgia. Mr. Steinmeier said there are « limits » to Russia’s patience. Russia showed its gratitude by almost immediately stirring up trouble for Georgia in the breakaway region of Abkhazia, putting the Caucasus on the brink of another war. Close Merkel aides were taken aback and one told me in Berlin the other week that « we can’t give an inch » to Russia. A bit late for that now.

On Afghanistan, Ms. Merkel has always sided with her foreign minister. Germany’s large troop contingent isn’t allowed to leave its safe northern bases to join the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban in the south. « The only thing the [coalition] parties have in common is, ‘Don’t send troops to southern Afghanistan!' » says Omid Nouripour, a German MP who belongs to the Green Party, which isn’t in government.

So there are likely limits to German Obamamania, which is anyone-but-Bush-mania by another name. Mr. Obama wants Europe’s support for expanded military operations in Afghanistan; so, for that matter, does John McCain. The Democratic candidate backs NATO enlargement; ditto the Republican. France and Italy, both led by men who want closer trans-Atlantic ties, are loosening restrictions put on their forces in Afghanistan and are open to enlarging the NATO alliance. Yet Ms. Merkel this week pre-empted the Obama visit by ruling out any change on Germany’s deployment in Afghanistan. « I will make the limits very clear [to Mr. Obama], just as I have done with the current president, » she said. Welcome to Berlin.

Ms. Merkel, who was brought up in Soviet-dominated East Germany, is a political outsider who looks the part of a leader able to break the longstanding German policy mold. In one of her best moments, she calmly told Vladimir Putin last year to lay off his hounded political opponents; the Russian leader looked stunned.

She can build on some recent positive trends. Germany has in the past decade sent troops to crisis zones from Kosovo to Congo, breaking a post-1945 taboo about foreign military deployments. In Afghanistan, Germany has the third most troops after the U.S. and Britain.

But the pacifist training drummed into generations of leaders after World War II has tied Germany into psychological and political knots. To the ruling class, « atonement [for the war] is Germany’s chief political capital, its very own soft power, » notes Constanze Stelzenmüller of the German Marshall Fund. « Luckily for Europe, neither the British, nor the French, nor the Swedes or the Poles have qualms about using the entire gamut of their toolbox of power, from diplomacy and suasion to military force. »

Mr. Obama invoked the collapsed Berlin Wall repeatedly yesterday in his speech on U.S.-European relations. But the old Cold War « German Question » has merely changed, not disappeared. Russia knows Germany is a pivotal country in Europe. Mr. Putin has set out to co-opt its politicians (hence Schröder of Gazprom) and divide the West through Germany. Any American president who seeks to build on the recent progress in forging a new partnership with Europe will have to contend with a wobbly Germany.

Mr. Kaminski is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

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2 Responses to Election américaine: Le triomphe de tous les quiproquos (When European Obamamania turns out to be anyone-but-Bush-mania by another name)

  1. Samir dit :

    Obama’s Trip: No Bounce, No Flags, No Wounded GIs

    Sen. Barack Obama’s international globe-hopping to the Mideast and Europe was meant to burnish his credentials as a foreign policy and potential military leader – the strong suit of his Republican rival Sen. John McCain.

    Despite the media love fest over the political junket, Obama has yet to pull away from McCain in the polls. His campaign had expected a minimum eight-point lead after Obama clinched the Democratic nomination back in June, with even more momentum moving his way as the campaign progressed.

    Both the most recent Real Clear Politics rolling average and the Rasmussen tracking poll that coincided with the end of Obama’s trip this weekend show Obama with just a five-point lead over McCain — consistent with his numbers for the past two months. [Press reports this weekend have almost completely ignored the Rasmussen poll to only report on a Gallup poll, which showed Obama with a nine-point lead. Not as good as the Newsweek poll from June, which had Obama 15 points ahead of McCain.]

    With President Bush suffering low approval ratings, the economy moving into a recession as gas prices surge above $4 a gallon, and growing resentment about the unending war in Iraq, Obama should be pulling away in the polls.

    But he isn’t.

    The Obama campaign has been quick to be out front on the bad news, claiming — at the end of the trip — it never expected a poll bounce from Obama’s trip anyway.

    Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told Politico’s Mike Allen: “We wouldn’t expect any sort of — I guess the term people use is ‘bounce.’”

    In fact, during Obama’s global meet-and-greet tour, McCain’s poll numbers have risen in key battleground states like Ohio.

    As crowds cheered Obama globally, Americans here on the homefront were left wondering if the Illinois senator wants to be their president — or the president of some other country. [And whether the major U.S. media would at least offer the pretense of objectivity. An MSNBC poll from last week found that 47 percent of the public thought the coverage of Obama’s trip was “excessive.”]

    After Obama’s speech to an estimated 200,000 Germans in Berlin, a columnist for Britain’s Guardian newspaper began his review this way: “Barack Obama has found his people. But, unfortunately for his election prospects, they’re German, not American.”

    Obama’s speech to the Germans left much to be desired, from an American’s perspective.

    For starters, the crowd’s size was beefed up by the fact that the event was billed as a free rock concert for German citizens, with popular musical performers helping to draw the big crowd. Scant U.S. media even noted the warm-up rock draws of reggae artist Patrice and rock band Reamonn.

    Then there was the simple stage, with the podium surrounded by three potted plants. Missing was the American flag — nowhere to be seen. Perhaps Obama’s staff might consider the U.S. flag offensive.

    And then there was his speech, in which he proudly proclaimed he was in Germany as a “a fellow citizen of the world.”

    And there was the spectacle of the presidential wannabe going to a foreign land to apologize about the United States.

    Obama told his German audience he was sorry about his country because “I know my country has not perfected itself.” [This comment was made in the former seat of Nazi power. A letter to editor published in Obama’s hometown Chicago Tribune noted the irony: “While America may not be perfect, there is no reason to apologize to the Germans, architects of the Holocaust.”]

    As for America’s role in saving Germany from the onslaught of Stalinist communism and the subsequent Cold War, there was nothing.

    There was a rhetorical flourish about the Berlin Wall coming down, but nothing about the great American sacrifice, not to mention how our military might made President Reagan’s call — “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev” — a reality.

    There was a fleeting mention of the famous Berlin airlift of 1948 that President Truman ordered to thwart the Soviet blockade that sought to starve West Berlin.

    As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote, “Obama seemed to go out of his way not to say plainly that what saved Berlin in that dark time was America’s military might.

    “Save for a solitary reference to ‘the first American plane,’ he never described one of the greatest American operations of the postwar period as an American operation at all. He spoke only of ‘the airlift,’ ‘the planes,’ ‘those pilots.’ Perhaps their American identity wasn’t something he cared to stress amid all his ‘people of the world’ salutations and talk of ‘global citizenship.’”

    The Hollywood-staged Obama event for a man who has yet to ascend to the presidency didn’t sit well with all the Germans. Germany’s Stern magazine carried the headline « Barack Kant Saves the World. »

    One of their columnists, Florian Güssgen, wrote: « The man is perfect, impeccable, slick. Almost too slick … Obama’s speech was often vague, sometimes banal and more reminiscent of John Lennon’s feel good song ‘Imagine’ than of a foreign policy agenda. »

    Slickness without substance seemed to be the enduring theme of his trip. Among the little hiccups covered up by the major media, there were several gaffes on the global coronation trip.

    Perhaps the most notable — and reprehensible — was Obama’s decision to cancel a visit to wounded American soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southern Germany.

    Apparently, the Pentagon informed Obama that since his visit was a political one, the hospital visit would be only open to him and his official Senate staff. This excluded the press and campaign officials.

    The Pentagon did offer to allow Obama’s campaign plane to land at the nearby U.S. air base at Ramstein. The media also was to be accommodated there.

    Without the photo opportunity and his press entourage, Obama declined to meet the wounded soldiers. At first, Obama’s campaign claimed to the press he decided to cancel the trip to visit the troops because it was « a trip funded by the campaign, » and therefore somehow inappropriate. [What is inappropriate about a presidential candidate visiting wounded troops?]

    But the Obama story belies the fact it was only after the Pentagon closed the event to his traveling press, that Obama’s campaign nixed the event.

    Rightfully, McCain noted that it is never inappropriate for a candidate or official to visit U.S. troops.

    « If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event, » McCain said.

    McCain continued the attack on ABC News Sunday show “This Week”: “Those troops would have loved to see him, and I know of no Pentagon regulation that would’ve prevented him from going there” without the news media.

    The McCain campaign has been quick to pounce on Obama’s obvious slight to the troops and double-talk, airing a new commercial this weekend.

    “And now, he made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops,” the ad says. “Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops.”

    McCain added that Obama “certainly found time to do other things. »

    One of those other things Obama did was visit Paris and hold a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, typical of an American president visiting the French capital.

    Interestingly, The New York Times quoted Elysee officials that “Obama aides insisted that an American flag not be displayed alongside the French flag because Mr. Obama is only a visiting senator and not the president.”

    There is no protocol preventing an American official from having the flag displayed when abroad.

    America snubbed once again by a lame excuse.

    © 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
    ==============================================================

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    Merci pour un effectivement très intéressant et très complet panorama de ce qui se dit réellement sur le prétendu triomphe du munichois préféré de nos médias …

    J'aime

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