- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008


European expectations for the president-elect are high. It is generally hoped that what Europeans deem to be the Bush policy of unilateral defense of American interests will give way to multilateralism. Yet, when the next president takes office in January, American interests will remain the same as they have been in the past eight years.

At a rally in Berlin this summer, Barack Obama electrified the audience by stating: “I am a citizen of the world.” John McCain, on the other hand, gave precedence to American national interests: “Country first.” It is no wonder most Europeans had been hoping for an Obama presidency. “Obamaland,” as it is has been referred to in the British press, contains much vague promise that somehow many of the existing conflicts would vanish in an Obama administration.

After Inauguration Day, Washington still has to deal with the war in Iraq, an Iran bent on obtaining nuclear weapons, a North Korea with nuclear weapons, a resurgent Russia, an imploding Afghanistan and a war on terror that needs to be prosecuted vigorously at home and abroad. The global financial crisis will establish the parameters of what is possible — given the need for collaboration on the one hand, and spending constraints on the other.

It is well to remember, too, that although Mr. Obama, has been generally favored as “the global president,” not all countries share this perspective. The Washington Times reported Oct. 21 that many Pakistanis expressed a preference for Mr. McCain — since it is Mr. Obama who said he is willing to bomb their country in pursuit of terrorists. Some Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, shudder at the thought of a nuclear Iran and privately wince at talk of more “dialogue.” And Israelis have already been down the barren road of hoping for peace, yet being confronted by the reality of unbending and irrational hatred.

As a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other major international institutions, the United States acts as a global partner. But it is important to remember that when the president takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he will solemnly swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The oath does not refer to Europe or any other nation.

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