international intrigue

Was Obama’s Trip a Success?

President Obama returned to the White House early this morning, his eight-day journey of international summits, bilateral talks with world leaders, awkward chitchat with the Queen, and town halls with French, German, and Turkish citizens finally at an end. He comes back as popular as ever in America, and certainly more beloved in Europe, but what did he actually accomplish for all that effort? Not that much, it seems, and certainly not as much as he would have preferred. But perhaps, as many are speculating today, he has quietly sown the seeds that will one day blossom into actual fruitful partnerships.

• John Mercurio writes that “Obama left Europe with little to show in the near term,” including “two of his trip’s most pressing priorities: securing more domestic stimulus spending from Group of 20 leaders and a larger international coalition of troops for Afghanistan.” Yet his trip was, “on balance, a success,” because he “set a tone with world leaders that resonates back home with his own constituents.” [National Journal]

• Michael McAuliff says Obama’s “first international tour was as much a campaign swing as it was global summitry,” meant to “win over” the people of other countries as a means to win over their leaders later on. [NYDN]

• John F. Harris and Eamon Javers say Obama the Rationalist portrayed “a leader who sees himself building a more orderly, humane world by vanquishing outdated thinking and corrupting ideology,” demonstrating “how starkly he differs from his predecessor on basic beliefs about power, diplomacy and even human nature.” [Politico]

• Ralph Peters calls the trip “Obama’s Spring Apologies Tour,” during which he “draped Lady Liberty in sackcloth and ashes, drawing plentiful applause but no serious economic or security cooperation in return,” and finally “surrendered our national pride” in Turkey. [NYP]

• Kathleen Parker claims that, after telling the world he’ll listen more and show humility, “we have to worry whether Obama will be viewed as weak and the U.S., therefore, vulnerable.” [WP]

• The Los Angeles Times editorial board contends that Obama “returns home with a mixed bag of results: applause and admiration but few commitments from allies wary of U.S. power and bluster.” [LAT]

• Hans Nichols and Edwin Chen agree that while the trip was a “symbolic triumph,” Obama also “failed to persuade allies to pour more money into their economies or to commit extra combat troops to Afghanistan.” [Bloomberg]

• Chuck Todd and friends concur that “[w]hile the president didn’t get Europeans to commit to a stimulus and didn’t get more combat troops for Afghanistan, it’s hard to say that it wasn’t a P.R. triumph.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• David E. Sanger write that Obama “pushed what might be called, with a notable exception or two, an anti-Bush doctrine.” It was also a pragmatic decision that, “unable to persuade important allies to follow his lead on economic stimulus or Afghanistan, he decided to settle for relationship building over immediate results.” [NYT]

• Jonathan Weisman thinks Obama “made modest tangible progress, but left behind what he hopes are the seeds of more dramatic foreign-policy success to come.” He “did emerge with some concrete achievements” at the G20 and in commitments to Afghanistan, but those are the results of “lowered expectations.” [WSJ]

• Toby Harnden says that “while there is little doubt that he has won European hearts,” Obama has “few demonstrable results to show for his tireless efforts to woo Europe and rebuild relations after President George W. Bush by apologising for American ‘arrogance’ and declaring at every turn that he wants ‘to listen, to learn and to lead.’” [Telegraph UK]

• Sam Youngman believes Obama now has “more political capital than when he left.” [Hill]

Was Obama’s Trip a Success?