Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: 2021 SL770
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Quoted: 752 Post(s)
Europe breathes a sigh of relief as Bush bids farewell
FROM a castle in Slovenia to one in Windsor, from the Elysee Palace to the Vatican, George Bush races through Europe this week to bid farewell to US allies whose loyalty has been tested during his past eight years in the White House.
With Europe fascinated by the unstoppable rise of Barack Obama, President Bush will get short shrift from pro-American European leaders keen to put the strains and disputes behind them and look forward to next year's new US administration, whether Senator Obama beats John McCain or not.
Mr Bush will be hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy â€” all solidly pro-US, unlike the hostile Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac, who bedevilled Mr Bush's first term.
While the leaders will be generous and polite towards a US president who has plumbed unprecedented depths of unpopularity in Europe and America, there is no doubt the overall sense will be one of "good riddance".
Europe's social democrats presaged Mr Bush's arrival with a declaration stating they were looking forward "to life after Bush". They called for a rejuvenation of the trans-Atlantic relationship and said an Obama victory in November would be the best guarantee of that.
Mr Bush arrives on his valedictory tour today in Slovenia, almost seven years to the day since he set foot in Europe as US president to meet the then new Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. US-Russian relations have deteriorated ever since. The problem of Russia and associated issues such as energy security, potential conflict in Georgia and nuclear proliferation will feature strongly in the talks this week.
The first big business for Mr Bush is a summit today in Slovenia with European Union leaders in which the two sides will debate security measures America is introducing for all travellers to the US from Europe, seen as a threat to civil liberties by many in Brussels.
The EU-US trade relationship will also feature strongly. Apart from the war in Iraq and the abuses at Guantanamo Bay, the Europeans are aghast at Mr Bush's stalling on climate change policy. Despite the enthusiasm for US change, more nuanced voices are emerging to caution against the idea of a radical shift in trans-Atlantic ties.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso last week criticised Senator Obama's position on global trade.
Josef Joffe, a German commentator on America, wrote last week: "An optical illusion may be influencing our opinions: the comforting idea that the real problem is George Bush and not America. Why is this a mental delusion? First, because anti-Americanism is older than the younger Bush. Second because Obama (probably) comes, but the superpower stays. America, this steam hammer of a nation, is fundamentally a destroyer."
"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon