Obama’s final tour to Europe in the capacity of US President has been a milestone event from various points of view. He has come as the representative of the losing side that would still try to reassure its European allies that America’s policies towards Europe and NATO will not undergo any significant changes during Trump’s term.
However, against the background of the turmoil in the EU political establishment, as the declining influence of Washington is aggravating internal feud in the EU corridors of power those promises fall flat. Moreover, Greece’s public debt stands at roughly 180 percent of gross domestic product with 330 billion euro to be found somewhere by the “rescue team” of international creditors.
The recent elections in Bulgaria and Moldova have stirred bitter accusations and pessimistic forecasts, as the sitting EU officials are convinced that the politicians that came to power in the above mentioned states are pro-Russian by their nature.
That’s why Obama has been desperately trying to calm down local pessimists by saying that anti-Russian sanctions will be kept in place and that the Iran nuclear program nuclear deal is not going anywhere. It’s funny that Trump has already promised to do otherwise and Obama will have no say on this matter whatsoever in a short while.
When Obama’s tour to Europe was announced, the White House assumed it could be launched without any prior announcements that Obama was to meet Francois Hollande and Theresa May in Berlin. The announcement would only state that US President is going to visit the cradle of democracy (Greece) and Europe’s driving economic engine (Germany). The French Le Figaro would publish a pretty bitter article, noting that France is a UN Security Council permanent members, yet its leader is being ordered around to follow Obama as if he was a courier in his entourage. It goes without saying that Italian and Spanish leaders are receiving the same treatment from America’s lame duck. It doesn’t seem that the way Washington is treating Hollande will help the latter to get reelected.
It seems that US political elites are convinced that Merkel has overshadowed Hollande and now she’s the only one to be treated with respect. The Foreign Policy would note:
On what is his last tour of Europe this week, and what is likely to be his last major tour abroad, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama has reserved a full two days for Berlin. This unusually long visit to the German capital is not a coincidence. It is here that he first became a figure of «global importance» when, in July 2008, the then-candidate mesmerized a crowd of 200,000 Berliners. It is here that he developed his strongest rapport with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Most importantly, however, it is here that his foreign-policy legacy now has its strongest, if not last, line of defense
However, if Obama is such a fan of German Chancellor, how come the NSA and CIA have been tapping her phones for years. The scandal that outraged all sides of the German political spectrum was downplayed by Merkel back in 2015 in her bid to show her “unparalleled loyalty” to Washington and its masters. This position allowed the Obama administration to become the unannounced champions of law suits against German companies, that resulted in major settlements with Deutsche Bank paying 14 billion dollars to Washington, and Volkswagen parting away with 15 billion dollars.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that no genuine tears were shed when Obama was visiting Greece, even though Western corporate media sources heralded the trip as a “major political event”. However, Greeks had an opinion of their own on this matter, launching massive anti-US protests in the Greek capital to “honor” Obama. In the end, local riot police was forced to use tear gas to get the situation under their control. A similar reception awaited Obama in Germany, but here he was not the only one to be envied, since Merkel is losing public support so rapidly due to her toothless position that most local politicians would try to avoid being mentioned in one sentence with the Chancellor at all costs.
During his visit Obam would urge leaders of the European Union to be more forgiving of Greece and its debts. However, as the Bloomberg says, it’s long past time for Europe’s leaders to explain to their voters that financial distress is best dealt with decisively, not dragged out in perpetuity — and that prompt debt relief is in their interests as well as Greece’s. A continued policy of extend and pretend will cripple Greece’s prospects, and if that happens, the economic and political costs won’t be confined to Greece.
It’s curious that Trump’s victory has turned a trip that was originally intended to showcase Mr Obama’s foreign policy legacy into a US damage limitation exercise.
Yet, bitterness is the best word to describe the reaction in Europe towards Obama’s statements during this trip. It’s being noted that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the king of drones has done nothing to make this world a better or safer place. American troops are in Afghanistan, while the prisoners are still being tortured at Guantanamo Bay, the Middle East as a region is going down in flames and the Ukraine is now governed by fascists.
That’s how Obama’s presidency will be remembered by. Yes, there are tears, tears of bitterness and anger! Nobody is saddened by the fact that Obama leaves the White House, but millions of people are frustrated by the fact that Obama would still be allowed to the world of international politics!
Grete Mautner is an indepenent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”