Good Morning, Mr. President What Europe Wants from Obama
Part 5: 'The Time Has Come to Kick-Start Talks with Tehran'
Pawel Swieboda is Founder and Director of demosEUROPA, a Polish think tank.
The key task facing the new US President will be to share power and influence with other key players around the world in a manner which preserves American leadership. The decline of the US's position in the world is a fact of life. However, statistics never tell the whole story. Washington continues to pull the strings on a range of issues from science and innovation to nuclear non-proliferation. The American civilization remains singularly attractive to other nations and peoples around the world.
If the new president manages to build an inclusive international order in which key players feel comfortable, he will find it easier to exercise leadership. An early test of his strategy will come with the triple challenge of climate change, trade and new financial regulations. If he is to win on all three issues, he will have to both invite others to share in the benefits and to assume resonsibilities himself. On limiting greenhouse gas emissions, he will need to convince China of the merits of a low carbon economy. On trade, he will need to put an end to the schism between the developed and developing world which led to the failure of the Doha round. Finally, regarding new financial regulations, he will need to invite others to the table at the US- and EU-dominated IMF or its successor and ensure that it becomes a first responder against global turbulence.
The EU-US relationship will need to overcome its Freudian proclivity for the "narcissism of minor differences" if it is to be successful. Given the challenge posed by other world powers, there is no doubt that the EU and the US will need to rely on each other more than ever. Global competition will push them to create a single trans-Atlantic market in the next decade. This flagship project will unveil new energies but will never lead to perfect harmony.
Karsten Voigt is the coordinator of German-American relations for the German government.
First, I hope that the new US president will not try to stave off European climate policy initiatives, but will instead work together with us to promote initiatives. Second, Europe and the USA should act in concert to overcome the economic and financial crisis. Third, the US needs to proceed with active policies of disarmament and arms control. Fourth, I want to see the closure of Guantanamo. Fifth, I would like to see the new president pursue critical and yet cooperative policies in its approach to Russia. In general, the US needs to consult more intensively with its allies about important decisions, rather than just informing them.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, is president of the Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament.
Obama promises to renew American diplomacy, and to talk to foes as well as friends. This would make an enormous difference.
There are so many issues which need to be tackled, but one which I believe is very important is reform of the international financial markets. I have had many meetings with the US Democrats about what needs to be done and I am sure we can work together on new joint regulation of financial markets, and that we can reach a common position on new roles for the IMF and other global financial institutions. The Democrats have the same wish as us -- financial markets that sustain jobs in modern industries instead of seeking excessive short-term profits at the expense of other priorities.
Obama has one huge advantage over Bush -- he does not see the world only as a security problem. He knows there are other equally pressing issues: climate, energy, poverty, disease, peace -- some of them part of the root causes of terror.
A US president who showed commitment to the well-being of ordinary citizens would generate renewed interest in social justice worldwide. Where Bush cut social spending and gave tax cuts to the super rich, Obama's Plan for America offers clear commitments to widen healthcare, tackle poverty and improve education for all. It would be good not only for the workers of America but also for social democracy in Europe and elsewhere. America could inspire people throughout the world in a way it has not done since the civil rights movement.
Obama's message of change brings hope. A new, young, gifted president offering the possibility of a new dialogue on the world's problems. We should welcome it with open arms.
Denis MacShane, 60, is Great Britain's former minister of state for Europe and a Labour Party member of parliament.
First of all, I would like to modify the words of John F. Kennedy: We should not ask ourselves what the United States can do for Europe. Instead, we should ask ourselves what the EU can do for a functioning partnership with America. Europe needs more coordination. The Europeans must make a stronger effort to speak with one voice when it comes to security policy. Only then can the EU gain greater influence in Washington. Conversely, of course, we would like to see the new president remain in a dialogue with the world. An isolationist, inward-looking, protectionist America would leave the world at the disposal of the new powers and ideologies, which have nothing but contempt for democracy, freedom of opinion and human rights, especially the rights of women. But if the leaders in Europe and America live up to the challenge, the Euro-Atlantic alliance, together with the democracies in Asia and Latin America, will be able to shape the 21st century.
Constanze Stelzenmüller is director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund.
Dear Mr. President, congratulations! You are now the most powerful man in a globalized world. Even though we cannot vote for you, somehow this also makes you the president of us all. That's why the entire world has such high hopes for you. We, on the other hand, know that before your election, entire teams have been developing wish lists that you will be taking along on your first trips abroad. There are plenty of issues to discuss: the financial crisis, climate change, Afghanistan, Iraq ... Doesn't this mean that you will confront a mountain of expectations? For this reason, I do have one final request: Take it easy, Mr. President. Take your time, travel, talk to America's allies and listen before you act. This will make negotiating items on other people's wish lists (somewhat) easier.
- 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'