The Power of Goodwill
President Obama's goodwill mission to Europe is just what the doctor prescribed. Over the past eight years, America's reputation deteriorated to a point where our relations with other countries were becoming adversarial. Turkey has been a NATO ally for decades, but when 90 percent of the Turkish people remark in a survey that they don't think well of the United States, then there's a repair job to be done.
The old model of beating up on other countries doesn't help. It's to our own benefit that we reach out to them for their support, because the leaders of the European democracies draw their strength from their own constituencies. If their people don't feel supportive of the U.S. and its president, then Europe's leaders will be less inclined to collaborate with us.
I know some people in the U.S. will wish that the president had acted tougher on this trip. But that would be a short-sighted view. America cannot exist in isolation. Our security, our economy, and our influence in the world depend on good relations with these allies. We have to realize that we're a part of the international community. If Obama had been more aggressive in his interactions, it could have led to further, irreparable damage to an American reputation in Europe still fragile after the policies of the previous administration.
This is Obama's chance to re-establish the notion that the U.S. president is still the leader of the free world. It couldn't come at a more important time. In the days of the two superpowers, the world could choose between siding with the Americans or the Soviets. The threats were clear then. Today the threats of terrorism and economic decline are real, but they aren't visible. We don't know who the enemy is. Strong, mature American leadership is needed, and the need has never been stronger than it is today.
I think the president's European trip has gone a long way toward asserting that level of leadership. He did a great job in toning down the rhetoric and showing the people of the world that he is a president who cares, and that the U.S. is a nation of friendship and cooperation, not unilateralism.
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