Mark Mardell, BBC’s Europe editor, noticed an American flag flying in his Brussels neighborhood recently and believes it may be a sign that anti-Americanism is waning on the Continent now that Bush is out and Obama is in. But he wonders — as do I — “Will sentimental approval be accompanied by hard political deeds?”
He believes today’s meeting to decide whether the EU will take in any Guantanamo prisoners presents a good first test. Given how little help Bush was able to get on this score, he’s right.
But taking a couple of prisoners is easy symbolism, much like ordering Gitmo closed. Let’s see if we get a significant uptick in European troops for Afghanistan or a meeting of the minds on climate change, Iranian nukes, or other really tough policy issues before getting too awfully excited, shall we?
There’s no doubt the Bush administration rubbed Europe the wrong way. Partly, this was a matter of brusque style and “You’re with us or you’re against” us and “Old Europe vs. New” and so forth. Mostly, I suspect, it was because of substantial differences in policy priorities. While Obama is closer to (Old) Europe on that score, it strikes me as quite likely that he’ll be much less of a change than many in Europe hope.
James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council..