And after those nice Europeans gave Obama that peace prize! (well, the Nobel foundation provides the funding, Norwegians make the pick, dunno how EU members felt).
From the Financial Times:
President Barack Obama will not attend a European Union-US summit to have been held in Spain in May, dealing a further blow to the EU’s attempts to be taken seriously as a coherent force in international affairs.
Philip Gordon, US assistant secretary of state for Europe, insisted that Washington was committed to good relations with both the EU and Spain, but the announcement will nevertheless be greeted with dismay in Madrid and disappointment in Brussels.
Diplomats in Brussels interpreted Mr Obama’s decision not as a snub to Spain, the current holder of the six-month rotating EU presidency under the union’s complicated constitutional arrangements, but rather as a signal to the EU as a whole that he was unwilling to cross the Atlantic to take part in summits that risked lacking substance.
One diplomat said Mr Obama had been “fairly unimpressed” with the results of an EU-US summit staged in Prague last year, when leaders of all 27 EU member states turned up to meet the president, eager to bask in his reflected glory.
Yves here. Now I’m no diplomat, but it seems to me that the idea of showing up to pow wows only when a deal is to be cut is a false economy; there might be some merit in spending time with other world leaders when there are no pressing issues on the table. If there was some pressing business here, like key legislation pending, or a disaster of some sort, I could see begging off. But it doesn’t appear that the White House offered an excuse to make the turndown a tad more palatable.
Swedish Lex gave an off-the-cuff reaction:
I agree that it must be difficult to deal with Europeans who cannot agree amongst themselves which EU leader should be hosting the summit and where it should be held. Furthermore, EU summits have always been not so exciting talk shops poor on photo ops and I am sure that, on the whole, the U.S. is right to give a lot/more attention to Asia and China. However, Obama is demonstrating an almost total tone deafness if he does not come. Remember the welcome of the Berliners when Obama was only a CANDIDATE? With which economic bloc should Obama do his utmost to co-ordinate trade, environmental and currency policies towards China with?
Sarkozy – who clearly is over sensitive, I know – has reportedly still not forgiven Obama for not wanting to dine with him when Obama visited Paris last summer. Obama preferred to do some tourism and shopping with the family and packs of journalists instead.
And then Obama is surprised that Europeans do not want to send more troops fight the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
This is diplomacy and style at the level of George W. Had the U.S. been undisputed empire of the world, then Obama could have afforded to behave like Augustus.