NATO Summit in Lisbon Helps Obama

Heads of State at NATO

From Jackie Calmes and Peter Baker, the New York Times:  As administration officials said farewell to one another upon returning from a two-day summit in Lisbon on Saturday night, they all but exchanged high-fives. The sense of success went to the top: President Obama, shirt-sleeved and smiling, made a rare, brief visit to the press cabin as Air Force One headed home.

“No more summits!” he said jokingly, having only recently returned from a 10-day diplomatic tour across Asia.

Yet while that Asia trip had mixed results, forcing Mr. Obama to leave without the South Korean trade deal he had expected, the consensus with Europeans and Russians at the NATO summit in Lisbon about how to handle Afghanistan and missile defense gave him a more successful sheen — even if ultimate success, particularly in Afghanistan, remains problematic.

Mr. Obama was able to lead on a world stage in a way that he has not been able to do lately at home. He did so with public and private assistance from his European and Russian counterparts, many of whom called the summit meeting historic. Acutely aware of his problems at home after the drubbing Democrats took in the midterm elections — most manifest in Senate Republicans’ resistance to the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia — the other leaders seemed almost to go out of their way to buoy Mr. Obama.

Their help was not merely volunteered; administration officials actively sought it. “Throughout the summit, there was intense lobbying by the administration to win support for the ratification process,” said the Czech defense minister, Alexandr Vondra.  (photo: NATO)

Image: nato%2011%2021%2010%20leaders%202.jpg