Good Morning, Mr. President What Europe Wants from Obama
Part 10: 'Obama -- Something that Is Still Impossible to Achieve in many European Countries'
Dr. Jean-Yves Haine is a senior researcher for trans-Atlantic and global security at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden.
Electing Obama will in itself boost the US image abroad. Europe is looking with admiration and envy at Obama, a symbol of something that is still impossible to achieve in many European countries. After the election, symbolic but important gestures could be made: Guantanamo closure (easier said than done), the torture and rendition legacy, some amendment of the Patriot Act (but not much). Mostly, the tone and language will be crucial: to end the rhetoric of the war on terror, the us-versus-them mantra. ... This will be necessary if the US wants to resume its role of honest broker in the Middle East (but the burden of past decisions will be particularly heavy).
Loukas Tsoukalis is a professor of European integration at the University of Athens and a special advisor to the president of the European Commission.
The first priority for the next White House must be to flexibly and effectively tackle the global financial crisis. This will require cooperation with others. The financial crisis, however, also provides an opportunity for a new global economic order, which must include a radical reform of international institutions like the IMF. These institutions need to be modernized so they can address new challenges, rather than the challenges of the 1960s. To achieve this, they need to reflect the current distribution of power in the world, not the distribution of power that prevailed in the aftermath of World War II.
It will be important that the new president takes a more multilateral approach to dealing with the world's problems. Even Mr. Bush, late in the game, proved willing to discuss reforming the way international financial institutions are run.
It strikes me that Obama is more willing and able to adjust to the new era. Obama seems more psychologically attuned to this new world in which power is and will continue to be distributed much more broadly than in the past.
Of course, some kind of disappointment with the new president is inevitable. In a way, Obama provides more potential for disappointment because expectations for him are so high in Europe. But the world can't change totally from one day to the next. The interests of the United States and the European Union are not always exactly the same, and it would be foolish for Europeans to expect that the United States will stop pursuing its interests.
On Afghanistan, I would hope that the new president undertake a serious reassessment of whether that war is winnable, and of what we mean by "victory." I also hope he will sit down with leaders in Iran.
As a Greek, I'm especially interested in the Balkans, and also in Turkey. The US should continue to encourage Greece and Turkey to normalize their relations. In the Balkans, I would hope that the next US administration would take a more cooperative approach. Up to now, the United States has tended to present its allies with faits accomplis in this region of the world, particularly regarding Kosovo. You cannot start negotiations having already announced what the final outcome will be. It's especially regrettable because in the Balkans, there isn't really any divergence of interests between the US and the EU.
Russia is a different matter. Europe has an interdependent relationship with Russia as far as energy is concerned. The United States does not. How will the next US president handle Putin and Medvedev? As an enemy to contain? Or are there opportunities for partnership?
Miroslav Lajcak is High Representative and EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Hercegovina.
From the perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina, our priority is that the US, along with its international partners, remains fully engaged in supporting the countries of the Western Balkans as they move towards full integration in the EU.
When George Bush took over from Bill Clinton in 2001, Bosnia was still very fragile, politically, socially and economically, its people still dealing with the immediate and terrible legacy of the war. Eight years on, as a new administration takes over in Washington, a huge amount of progress has been made. Bosnia is now poised to complete its postwar recovery and secure full integration in NATO and the EU.
However our mission is not yet complete. Significant threats have arisen that could derail the entire process in its final stages. That is why Bosnia continues to require close attention and sustained engagement.
The Dayton Peace Agreement was signed only after the US took the lead on forging a negotiated settlement to the conflict of the early 1990s. The US continues to be directly involved in helping Bosnia establish the institutions and practices that will allow it to develop as a normal democracy. It is this process which must now be supported so that the country and its leadership can ensure that the ad hoc aspects of the postwar settlement -- such as the Office of the High Representative -- can be phased out and replaced with permanent institutions that are a normal part of European democratic governance.
Washington is uniquely equipped to support this process. For all the differences between the US and the 27 EU Member States in terms of languages and culture, there is a bedrock of shared belief in democracy, in social, political and economic freedoms and in the rule of law. We hope that the new US administration will bring a renewed commitment to the core values that have traditionally underpinned the trans-Atlantic relationship -- the same values that will underpin Bosnia and Herzegovinas continued progress.
Xavier Declercq is a project director with Oxfam-Solidarité Belgique in Belgium.
I would like to see the new US president influence the rules of international trade in such a way that they promote the development of countries in the south, and that the United States pursue a less interventionist policy that begins with multilateral dialogue. That the United States take other actors in the world more seriously. And that the US keep its promises and truly defend the interests of people in developing countries.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
As someone who worked in the United States for many years and made many friends there, I am disappointed by the image America has projected in recent years. I would like to see the next president help his country regain the respect it deserves. This requires that attention be paid, once again, to the increasingly important role of science for the well-being of modern societies. But the most important thing will be to practice "leadership" on the international stage instead of constantly talking about it: in climate protection, in the transformation of energy systems and in securing the world's food supply.
Incidentally, true leadership requires regaining the capacity for self-irony.
Compiled and edited by Christopher Glazek.
- Part 1: What Europe Wants from Obama
- Part 2: 'We Need the US as a Strong Partner'
- Part 3: 'On Iran, Precious Time Has Been Lost'
- Part 4: 'We Need a Washington Less Ideological in Dealing with Russia and China'
- Part 5: 'The Time Has Come to Kick-Start Talks with Tehran'
- Part 6: 'Some Disappointment Is Inevitable'
- Part 7: 'By Voting for Obama, Americans Are not Voting to Become an EU Country'
- Part 8: 'Please Don't Bomb Iran'
- Part 9: 'A Measure of Moral Leadership Would Be to Join the ICC'
- Part 10: 'Obama -- Something that Is Still Impossible to Achieve in many European Countries'