- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PARIS| Like much of the world, the French are giddy over President Obama, but one analyst may have hit the hyperbolic stratosphere by comparing Tuesday’s inauguration to the end of World War II.

“What we feel in France today…is a sentiment that is a bit like the liberation after WW II,” said Etienne Schweisguth an analyst for the French Political Science University in Paris.

“Fundamentally, the French expect of Barack Obama that America again finds the path it fixed during the time of George W. Bush’s father that is the path to a world order,” Mr. Schweisguth told The Washington Times.

Democrats Abroad hosted multiple celebrations for American expatriates and guests in Paris, other cities in France and throughout the world.

“Our vote mattered and our efforts paid off,” said Joe Smallhoover, Chairman of the French chapter of the group that is active in more than 160 countries.

French political scientist Dominique Moisi credited Mr. Obama with changing the image of America in the rest of the world. But in the long run, he warned, Mr. Obama and his administration will be judged more by what he does and not by who he is.

“When the president will turn toward Europeans and say to them, ‘Well thank you very much for having supported me so warmly, but now I don’t need your support in words, I need your support in deeds. I need your troops in Afghanistan are you going to be willing to do that?” Mr. Moisi asked.

Mr. Obama has pledged to make Afghanistan a focus in the U.S.-led war on terror. To obtain European backing, however, will require persuasion, according to a poll released yesterday.

Most voters in leading European countries want their leaders to resist U.S. calls for more troops, according to a Harris poll conducted for the Financial Times.

About 60 percent of German respondents, were opposed, France and Italy tied at 53 percent opposed and in Britain, the biggest European contributor to NATO’s Afghanistan mission, 57 percent of those polled rejected sending more forces, the newspaper said.

American forces make up 17,000 troops in the 48,000-strong NATO force. Another 15,000 U.S. troops are part of a separate command.

The U.S. plans to add up to 30,000 additional troops to offset gains by a resurgent Taliban, which has regained control of vast swaths of the country.

Without commenting directly on Afghanistan, Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racisme, a Paris-based anti-discrimination group, said he hoped Mr. Obama’s presidency would help defeat religious and ethnic fanatics.

“At a time that fundamentalists are trying to fight against the democratic model it is important that American has a president who wears the colors of democracy,” Mr. Sopo said.

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