The news from Europe, if you listen to our infatuated media, is that the Euros love President Obama: according to the American reportage, his recent trip there was a cavalcade of photo-ops, cheering crowds, and hugs from the queen of England. Even the French were in awe of him! However, if you look beneath the surface, not that far beneath the gloss and the glam there runs a current of irritation, and, dare I say it, resentment.
Take, for example, his stop in the Czech Republic, where he declared that he was seeking a nuclear-free world — that is, a world free of nuclear weapons. This is a goal the United States has a special moral responsibility to seek, he averred, because we are the only nation that has actually used these weapons. The crowd loved it. What they didn’t at all love, however, was his announcement that
"As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies.’”
One supposes it takes a fair amount of courage to defy the wishes of your own people and obey the dictates of a foreign power, albeit not the sort of courage appreciated by Obama’s audience. As the London Telegraph put it:
"The crowd enthusiastically cheered the more idealistic parts of Mr. Obama’s speech but was relatively subdued when he spoke about his backing for missile defense.
"Petr Sramek, 33, was among those disappointed that Mr. Obama had not dropped a policy that was opposed by more than two thirds of Czechs. ‘I really liked the clear message on nuclear disarmament but I am against the missile defense system. It is more about geopolitical influence then defense against missiles.’
"Arena Protivinska, 30, described herself as a ‘big fan’ of Mr. Obama but accused him of ‘hypocrisy’ for urging world peace while also pushing forward with the missile shield. ‘He sounded like George W Bush saying that we should be afraid in order to justify missile defense.’"
Like Americans, the Europeans want to believe — but they see the two faces of Barack Obama too clearly, and the contrast is too apparent to be denied. The gullible Americans, who take things at face value, still believe their new president represents a real change, a challenge to the status quo, while the more sophisticated Europeans are quick to pick up on Obama’s inconsistencies — made all the more glaring by his habit of pairing two mutually contradictory stances on the same issue.
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.