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October 11, 2009
Obama's peace prize may breed resentment overseas
Writing in the Washington Post , Jim Hoagland has an excellent column that looks at the reaction to Obama's peace prize overseas and sees some potential problems for the president.
Obama's increasingly tense relationship with President Nicolas Sarkozy recently made headlines in France after the two clashed over Iran at the United Nations, the shrine of Norway's beloved multilateralism. British newspapers have played up what was described as the snubbing of Gordon Brown during the Group of 20 and U.N. summits.
The prime minister's office reportedly had to ask five times before Obama grudgingly agreed to see Brown, widely expected to be voted out of office next year. There is no sentiment to spare in Obama's Oval Office for wounded politicos.
Fair enough. But much of the bubbling resentment in European chanceries has to do with something that can be easily fixed: a deepening frustration over Obama aides rushing the president into the spotlight at the expense of other national leaders and offering misleading interpretations of major events to make their boss look good. See the U.S. press accounts of Iran's Geneva "agreement" to enrich uranium abroad, which European officials describe as little more than an Iranian willingness to talk about that idea some day.
In Germany, Obama is faulted for neglecting this 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is skipping the Nov. 9 ceremonies in Berlin and did not take the opportunity to stop by Berlin for Unification Day celebrations while in nearby Copenhagen to push Chicago's bid for the Olympics. Now he will be able to find time to travel to Oslo to celebrate, well, himself.
Hoagland, a long time observer of politics both here and abroad, has pegged Obama perfectly. The more that European leaders see the president in action, the more annoyed they are getting at his shameless self promotion.
The peace prize will no doubt make him insufferable - if he isn't already.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky