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Obama's chance to renew US-Europe relations

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It was January 2003 when the then Defence Minister of the United States Donald Rumsfeld used the inappropriate term 'Old Europe'(1) in order to describe those European countries which expressed objections regarding the war in Iraq. Most analysts of international relations agree that it was a period during which the traditional alliance between Washington and Brussels was languished; mainly due to Bush administration's impuissance to search for broader consensus regarding the Iraq War. The Foreign Policy of the U.S. government in the case of Iraq - as well as the attitude of 'you are either with us or against us'(2) - led to a negative effect: created to the Europeans the certain feeling that Washington acts all the way authocratically in the diplomatic 'chessboard', with much of cynisicm against Europe's views on international political issues. Right or wrong, the above impression reinforced the reflectives of, both left-wing and right-wing, 'anti-americanism'(3, 4, 5) towards Europe.

Here comes Mr.Obama's chance. A few days ago, the Democratic presidential nominee started his circular tour in the Middle East and Europe. Barack Obama's visits in Paris and Berlin seem to be a good chance for him to create a new framework, within which a fresh, expedient and closer U.S.- European relation will function. Indeed, the article title 'Obama meets Obamamania in Europe eager for change' of the Associated Press* describes Europeans' hope for change, not only within the context of the Euro-American relations but, furthermore, of the frame within which global politics should operate; a more equitable, progressive and stable diplomatic environment, in full accord with the fundamentals of International law.

The challenges which European and American leaders have to face are neither few, nor easy. The War against Terrorism, the efforts to combat starvation in the Third World, peacemaking in the Middle East (Israeli-Palestinian conflict) and the stabilization of democracy in various places around the world (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo etc) are only components of a quite difficult puzzle, which definitely needs a new, strong cooperation between Washington and it's European allies. But, talking honestly, the biggest part of responsibility belongs to the next government of the United States, which therefore has to prove that sincerely considers Europe as an equal fellow ally and not as another bondservant of the so-called Pax Americana.

* Note: Matt Moore and Melissa Eddy, "Obama meets Obamamania in Europe eager for change", The Associated Press; Jul 22, 2008.

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Aris Claras is a writer based in Greece.

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