THROUGHOUT THE recent Bush presidency, Europeans wrung their hands, criticized his administration's unilateralism (a little modified in his second term) and told the world how much they would do if only there was a multilateralist in the White House. Oh, for the chance to be America's international chum.
So now we have in the White House the president of Europe's dreams; the president we all yearned to vote for; a president who is awesomely talented and expresses with intelligent eloquence the sentiments about the world that Europeans had come to think were our own monopoly. Visiting Europe, the president is mobbed not only by the public but by their elected leaders, whose bedraggled or dour images could do with being touched by a little of his capacious quantity of tinsel.
But foreign policy is about more than photo opportunities. Obama should of course be the agent of change in the U.S.-EU relationship. That is at least how Europeans talked about him. Yet, as his administration deals with some of the predicaments of intelligent global engagement, what response can President Obama expect from his European admirers?
EXPECTATIONS, OF course, must be grounded in the history and realities of the recent European experience-what Europe is and what it is not; what Europe has achieved and what it has not. The Continent has been shaped by the institutions and alliances established after the Second World War.