The London Times says that Europe’s leaders were “dazzled” by Barack Obama, but his trip was a failure. There is no inconsistency between these observations:
Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to America’s allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, warning that failure to do so would leave Europe vulnerable to more terrorist atrocities. But though he continued to dazzle Europeans on his debut international tour, the Continent’s leaders turned their backs on the US President.
Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister.
Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama’s host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request. …
The presidential charm offensive failed to move fellow Nato countries. President Sarkozy told Mr Obama that France would not be sending reinforcements to bolster its existing force northeast of Kabul.
Europe’s leaders are happy to humor us Americans and our reporters. It costs nothing to tell us how charming they think Barack is. But what they actually do will depend on their assessment of where their country’s interests lie. We can only hope that Obama will also follow what seems like a self-evident rule.
UPDATE: Paul was writing the post immediately below while I was working on this one. They are pretty much of a piece.