In a New York Times editorial, Karen Donfried says Europe's interest in Obama needs to translate into military assistance in Afghanistan and diplomatic support with Iran.
Europe is in love with Barack Obama, according to recent polls. But will this affair of the heart be a brief flirtation or something more enduring? Like many relationships, the partners themselves may not really know until times get tough. With troubles looming in Afghanistan and Iran, that day of reckoning is fast approaching.
The United States would clearly welcome greater European help in Afghanistan. Although a majority of Americans are still optimistic about stabilizing Afghanistan, support for "Obama's war" has been slipping. And recent allegations of President Hamid Karzai's fraudulent election have caused even staunch conservatives like George Will to question the mission and argue against sending more soldiers. If Republican support for the war erodes, then Mr. Obama will have an uphill battle persuading liberal Democrats that Afghanistan is truly a "war of necessity."
Some signs suggest that Europe may be content to allow Mr. Obama to go it alone in Afghanistan. Building a new governing coalition in Germany, moving forward with the E.U.'s Lisbon Treaty after the positive referendum outcome in Ireland, and forming a new European Commission will, at least in the short term, focus time and attention inward instead of on the common, global challenges that Europe and America face.