Good Morning, Mr. President What Europe Wants from Obama

Part 7: 'By Voting for Obama, Americans Are not Voting to Become an EU Country'


Volker Perthes is the head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

This election will bring change, regardless of the winner. Both candidates expressed their wish to cooperate with Europeans more than their predecessor has done and to abandon the "us vs. them" mentality that has characterized much of the Bush years.

You do have the sense, more so in the media than in policy circles, that many here expect that Obama will rule as a "European president." That may turn out to be wrong in several respects. By voting for Obama, Americans are not voting to become an EU country.

Obama understands the changing world, and we can expect that he will increasingly rely on partners in Asia -- not just partners in Europe. As expected, I think he will be more multilateral in his approach, but that doesn't mean he'll play below the weight of his country.

The biggest challenge will be to align agendas on both sides of the Atlantic. This has been difficult in the past not only because European and American interests partly diverge, but also because of differing styles and traditions of behavior. Europeans, for instance, will never be as prepared to use military force as Americans are.

There are other challenges, too: Americans and Europeans have to come to agreement about concrete goals in Afghanistan. Is it democracy? Or simply stability? Are we aiming for economic transformation, particularly in the Pashtun tribal areas? Each side will have to determine what it is willing to contribute.

As far as Russia is concerned, it will be easier for Obama than it would have been for McCain to improve relations. Obama, after all, has not proposed kicking Russia out of the G-8 or forming a league of democracies aligned against it.

As far as Israel-Palestine is concerned, the opposite might be true. Obama might face more domestic pressure on the issue than McCain would have, because many Americans still suspect Obama of being a krypto-Muslim or at least of being pro-Arab.

Ann Pettifor is the co-founder of the Jubilee 2000, a global campaign aimed at cancelling $100 billion in debt owed by the 42 poorest countries. She is currently a fellow at the New Economics Foundation in London and director of Advocacy International.

My hope is that the next US president will help build a new, more just, stable and sustainable global financial architecture, vital for balance and stability in the world economy, but also for the eco-system.

In 1971, President Nixon unilaterally dismantled the post-war Bretton Woods system, which maintained balance between the current and capital accounts of nations. Through his refusal to honor the US's obligations to make repayments in gold as required by Bretton Woods, Nixon's administration engineered the biggest sovereign default in history. It is seldom described as such, but that is what it was.

After the dismantling of Bretton Woods, the staff of the International Monetary Fund were called upon to design a new architecture. Their efforts failed and, by default, US Treasury bills (IOUs to the US government) at very low rates of interest, were established as the world’s reserve asset. As a result, countries with large numbers of poor, like China, India and South Africa are obliged to use their reserves to make loans to the US, at very low rates. They thereby finance consumption in a country with large numbers of rich people. The system discourages the US from structurally adjusting its economy, to restore balance. From being the world’s biggest creditor, the US became the world’s biggest debtor.

This post-1971 architecture, combined with financial and trade deregulation, fuelled US consumption. Increased consumption in turn fuelled carbon emissions worldwide. Until the "debtonation" of August 2007 (the current global financial crisis), this consumption appeared to be without limit, and worsened international imbalances.

Imbalances at the heart of the global economy are in my view the root cause of instability in the global financial system, but also the ecosystem.

Hans von Storch, director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht and climate researcher at the Institute of Meteorology at the University of Hamburg, is one of Germany's preeminent climate researchers.

There are two dimensions to my wishes: the values that the new man will represent and his analytical capabilities. As far as values are concerned, I expect respect for human rights and cultural diversity as called for under international law. When it comes to analytical skills, I hope that the new president will be able to distinguish between cultural constructs that lead to "passionate" activism and, ultimately, unnecessary conflict, and knowledge-based "cold" analysis. That he keeps an eye on the full range of all relevant problems and does not narrow his horizons to focus on one central issue, be it terrorism, the climate or the well-being of capitalism. And, of course, that Guantanamo is closed immediately. Putting Rumsfeld before an international court -- that too would be satisfying.

Article...
Comments
Discuss this issue with other readers!
25 total posts
Show all comments
Page 1
Macadore 11/05/2008
1.
Zitat von sysopIn conversations and e-mail exchanges with SPIEGEL ONLINE, European leaders and thinkers express their wishes for the next American president. Yes, they want the US to join the Kyoto successor. And, yes, they want to see Guantanamo close. But many also know that theirs is a view from Mars. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,588190,00.html
What hubris. To quote John Kennedy out of context, “Ask not what America can do for you, ask what you can do for America”. The author was partially right. You’re not from Mars. You’re from Venus. You want America to make you happy. If it doesn’t then it has failed you. I repeat, what childish hubris. When do the Europeans do their part? I hope Obama brings the troops home from everywhere. Let the Europeans deal with the Russias and Muslims. Let the Europeans protect their oil supplies in the Middle East. Let the South Koreans deal with North Koreans. I am tired of protecting and supporting an ungrateful world.
mrwarmth 11/05/2008
2. Ein Titel
I think Europe just got its first wish...
plotinus 11/05/2008
3. What have you done for US lately?
Zitat von MacadoreWhat hubris. To quote John Kennedy out of context, “Ask not what America can do for you, ask what you can do for America”. The author was partially right. You’re not from Mars. You’re from Venus. You want America to make you happy. If it doesn’t then it has failed you. I repeat, what childish hubris. When do the Europeans do their part? I hope Obama brings the troops home from everywhere. Let the Europeans deal with the Russias and Muslims. Let the Europeans protect their oil supplies in the Middle East. Let the South Koreans deal with North Koreans. I am tired of protecting and supporting an ungrateful world.
To quote John Kennedy *_in_ context: "Ask not what I can do for you ---- ask rather what you can do for me."* Aw, has the rest of the world been mean to you? Well, you can always leave and take your ball and your toys back home with you. The rest of the world will manage ---- somehow. -
tomfarr 11/06/2008
4. Europe's Wish List for Obama
As one who has roots in Europe, and has studied its culture, history, and some of its languages, I have no wish to be abrasive; but in a spirit of honest inquiry, I would like to know why Obama, or any Amerian president, should pay much attention to the wishes of Germany, to pick one major nation. It does not seem to me that Germany is in any meaningful way an ally, and perhaps not even a friend. No longer feeling a need for protection after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact, Germans have become increasing critical of the US, while kowtowing to the thuggish Russians and totalitarian Chinese. It does not seem too much of an exaggeration to say that Germany seems to be slowly taking on the status of a vassal state in a resurgent Russian Empire. The notorious Schroder, now happily working for the Russians, engaged in loud, raucous, and hostile attacks on the US in 2003; one wonders what quiet and friendly diplomacy on his part might have accomplished with Bush. I am really trying to discern in what way Germany is an ally of the US, whose counsel should be sought. It is not at all apparent to this American.
plotinus 11/06/2008
5. Americans should learn more, and complain less
Zitat von tomfarrAs one who has roots in Europe, and has studied its culture, history, and some of its languages, I have no wish to be abrasive; but in a spirit of honest inquiry, I would like to know why Obama, or any Amerian president, should pay much attention to the wishes of Germany, to pick one major nation. It does not seem to me that Germany is in any meaningful way an ally, and perhaps not even a friend. No longer feeling a need for protection after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact, Germans have become increasing critical of the US, while kowtowing to the thuggish Russians and totalitarian Chinese. It does not seem too much of an exaggeration to say that Germany seems to be slowly taking on the status of a vassal state in a resurgent Russian Empire. The notorious Schroder, now happily working for the Russians, engaged in loud, raucous, and hostile attacks on the US in 2003; one wonders what quiet and friendly diplomacy on his part might have accomplished with Bush. I am really trying to discern in what way Germany is an ally of the US, whose counsel should be sought. It is not at all apparent to this American.
Many things are not apparent to many Americans, though these things are very simple and clear. Americans love to toss around the words "co-operation" and "community." Perhaps they should spend a little time finding out what these words really mean. -
Show all comments
Page 1

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with permission


TOP
Die Homepage wurde aktualisiert. Jetzt aufrufen.
Hinweis nicht mehr anzeigen.