President Obama – So was he ignoring European allies

What does a day look like at Feature Story News? Buzzing and busy and an even smaller team than usual, just Olly and me at the news desk today. And the big event of the day Obama was in Ireland today, so I pretty much spent most of my time trying to catch all the key moments for our news feeds which included bits of his arrival, the tea plantation ceremony, speeches given by him and Taoiseach, and last but not the least him sharing a pint of Guinness with the locals.

Then Olly and myself are brainstorming ideas, which we run through quickly. After a bit of this and a bit of that, and we decide on calling up European think tanks to get their viewpoints on how this visit will help the trans Atlantic relations.

As I dig further into the story, since he has been elected in 2008, Obama has been heavily criticised in the media for focusing more on the Far East and Asia, and giving less attention to the European allies. This has obviously raised several eyebrows and the big question what will be the outcome for both countries and what do they aim to achieve?

We managed to get Stephen booth, Research Director at Open Europe for the radio interview.

Nice to get out of the office, I was back in familiar grounds again on Abingdon Street, near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament looking for the offices of Open Europe. I made it there in the nick of time to meet Stephen Booth.  I set up my radio equipment and got straight to the point. Most interviewees never challenge me and play it safe, to the point that the interview is quite boring and you know what to expect.  Stephen had a twist on most things. And we start. So what’s all the fuss about trans Atlantic relations?

Stephen said ‘A lot of European leaders were upset when Obama first came to office and he was seen to snob Europe and not attend too many meetings that were set up. But this is the reflection of realities of changing policies especially for United States and the world. Obviously Asia is growing fast and that’s where most of the economic development is coming from and that’s where a lot of the US trade will come from in the future decades,’ he explained.

As the Washington Post once wrote: “Unlike most of his predecessors, Obama has not forged close ties with any European leader.”

Stephen added, it is just a reflection that Europe has actually slipped down on the list of his priorities. It may not be number one anymore but it still plays a key role in terms of defence and security issues and it will remain a key partner in terms of trade. Obama’s focus on the Asia and the Pacific just reflects the reality of a changing world and the 21st century.

So what will be the expected outcome of this visit? Stephen’s quick to respond and says’ I don’t think there will be any big changes from this visit. I just think its business as usual and in some ways does have some cultural significance for example: the visit to Ireland and the G8 summit in France, and travels in Euro zone. But I think it will just be business as usual where he will be trying to get t Europe to take more of a role in security and defence and get them to spend more money and  take more responsibility for defence issues in Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East.


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