Transatlantic Relationship Words at Odds with Deeds

Panetta and Clinton Munich Security Conference 2012

From James Joyner, the New AtlanticistSecretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said all the right things about the transatlantic relationship at the Munich Security Conference. Alas, Panetta made a mockery of them on his way there. . . .

[A]ll the talk about the importance of the Obama administration’s profound respect for our transatlantic allies was belied by the fact that, on his way to the conference, Panetta casually undercut the words by summarily announcing a major change in American strategy in the Afghanistan fight without so much as a warning–much less consultation–with said allies. . . .

[Josh] Rogin quotes a "high ranking European official" saying that his government was expecting a new timeline to come at the NATO Summit. on the notion that "we can’t say the same thing in Chicago as we said in Lisbon." But Panetta jumped the gun.  "It was all carefully planned and now that plan is completely ruined."

The same official explains, "We said, ‘Okay, if Obama needs this politically, that’s fine. But please consider the bad side effects for us. This is hard to explain to our constituencies.  Before today we could still say the drawdown was conditions based. Now we can’t make the argument that it’s anything but politically motivated." 

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.   (photo: Getty)

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