Does the Obama Administration view our European allies “with general disdain?”

U.S. President Barack Obama returns from the United Nations in New York to the White House, September 24, 2010.

From S.W., the Economist:  My colleague in this space last week delightfully dismembered Dinesh D’Souza’s nutty Forbes piece “analyzing” Mr Obama’s worldview and thought processes, but the fact remains that this administration does seem to view our old European allies with general disdain.

First came the snubbing of Gordon Brown in March of last year. That was followed by Mr Obama’s decision to skip the US-EU summit in May. Then there was this summer’s nationalistic flogging of BP over the Gulf oil spill. And the most recent slap at Europe concerns influence at the International Monetary Fund, with America badgering EU countries to cede some of their voting power. The administration’s logic on this count is not necessarily absurd—Europe’s global economic influence has declined as that of countries such as China, India and Brazil has risen—but the move strikes me as gratuitous, a thinly-veiled attempt to curry favour with the nations the administration sees as the powers of the future at the expense of our old European allies. And they are our allies, not just a bunch of people with whom we did some deals in the past when it was mutually advantageous. …

As James Joyner wrote in Foreign Policy last October, “Despite George W. Bush’s defiant ‘you’re with us or you’re against us’ public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and paying little attention to Europe.” The relationship has not improved over the past twelve months.

Maybe someday, China truly will be America’s friend—rather than the enabler of our profligate spending and our source of inexpensive consumer goods—the Russians actually will have a functioning, non-threatening democracy, and Iran will not scare the living daylights out of its neighbours. But I’m not holding my breath. In the same way Mr Obama’s election did not herald some new era of post-partisanship in America, it did not inaugurate a new world in which geopolitical rivalries and conflicts have melted away. There are no friends like old friends, and America’s European allies are the best friends it has, despite a long history of policy squabbles. The Obama administration should stop treating them like stepchildren at a family reunion.  (photo: Reuters)

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