Schufreider: Without allied help, U.S. may stand alone

Dan Schufreider

Since I’ve arrived in London, I’ve heard multiple times, “It’s great you Americans wised up and elected Obama,” and, “Aren’t you glad Bush is gone?”

And for me, an Obama supporter, of course I’m happy I can respond positively to these kinds of questions and comments. Even more than a year after his inauguration, even with all the problems he’s encountered, the election of Barack Obama still seems to be a major step forward for our country. I’m not saying that in terms of the positive racial or generational aspects. I just think his policies, if they are allowed to be implemented, will lead to a better future for our country.

However, Obama has obviously had some trouble implementing his agenda in terms of health care, the environment and other issues. It could be that his style of governing, though inspiring, may not be good for working within the complicated system that is the U.S. government. It could be Obama and the Congressional Democrats are trying to move too quickly, and the American people truly do not want the changes they are trying to implement. Or, in my opinion, it could be the Republicans simply refuse to allow Obama and the Dems to have any significant successes, for fear of being called weak by far-right commentators.

Those reasons help to explain his difficulties with regard to domestic issues, but there’s one area where no one thought he’d have trouble: cooperating with allies in Europe, where people profess to love him so much.

This sort of ambivalence on the part of the Europeans has recently become an issue because of the debate over the Afghan War. The conflict in Afghanistan began with a much stronger international consensus then the war in Iraq. When Obama announced a plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, in an attempt to replicate the success of the Iraqi surge, it seemed reasonable our NATO allies should contribute.

But opposition to the troop increase has been strong, despite European pledges to support the Obama administration. Just the other day, the Dutch government collapsed as a result of the prime minister trying to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan-and as a result of the collapse, Dutch troops will probably end up being pulled out. There’s a possibility this could lead to other European nations following suit.

It seems as though we can’t count on Europe’s support, no matter who is in the Oval Office. The Europeans say a unipolar world is dangerous, but when an opportunity arises for them to step up and take a leadership role, they remain focused on their own domestic issues. Despite all the rhetoric about their love for Obama and their willingness to work with the U.S. in the post-Bush era, Europeans expect other nations, usually the U.S., to take up the burden.

Going forward, the best course of action seems to be consulting with our allies and not doing anything stupid. But if something does need to get done and our allies aren’t willing to help, the U.S. should have no qualms about going solo.

Weinberg junior Dan Schufreider can be reached at [email protected]