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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Citizen of the World Test 1: Afghanistan

For the last eight years we have heard liberal political opponents bemoan our "diminished image in the rest of the world". They have all put a premium on having great relations with countries like France and Germany. Those opponents include the soon to be President Barack Obama. So now, the country and the world will see if all those folks were merely making something out of nothing or if our image does translate into something tangible.

The first test of this theory will be on the subject of Afghanistan. President Obama has committed to a new strategy, a new focus, with plenty more troops in that country. We will soon thousands more American fighting men and women deployed into Afghanistan. If image in the rest of the world means anything, then with them will be thousands more European troops. If opinion polls mean anything, then Barack Obama is soon to be in for a rude awakening.

The Financial Times said 60 percent of German respondents in the survey
opposed Berlin sending more troops to Afghanistan.

In Britain, the second biggest contributor to NATO's mission in Afghanistan with more than 8,000 troops, 57 percent of those polled rejected sending more forces.

In France and Italy, 53 percent were opposed. Only in Spain was there a majority willing to consider sending extra troops, the Financial Times said.

The poll of 6,299 people, conducted online between January 8 and 15, found voters in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain believed the international financial crisis must be at the top of Obama's agenda.

Make no mistake, Barack Obama has a lot of goodwill in the rest of the world. As such, it is paramount that he transfer this into something tangible. The first place will be Afghanistan. If the United States sends in 20-30 thousand more troops and Europe sends in another thousand, then we should know right away that good will means pretty much nothing. If Obama's goodwill means that European countries will send in even half as many troops as the United States, then we will all know that the critics had a point for eight years. The first test of Obama's citizen of the world status will be played out in Afghanistan and that battlefield will also be a testing ground for ideological fights in foreign policy.

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