Euro crisis hurting Obama’s re-election chances
By Brian Beary in Washington | Friday 25 May 2012
Europe’s role in this year’s US presidential election is that of potential spoiler in President Barack Obama’s re-election bid, policy analysts at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC suggested during a discussion, on 24 May. Heather Conley, director of the Europe programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said that the EU’s sovereign debt crisis was more a domestic than a foreign policy issue in the US due to its adverse impact on the economy. “The crisis is a dim reflection of ourselves,” she said, referring to the sharp discord in Washington over how to reduce the US’ equally high debt levels. Former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker noted that the budgetary strains in Europe and the US had diminished their appetite and ability to promote global security and that they were increasingly relying on partnerships with other countries.
Asked if transatlantic tensions may resurface over Obama’s counter-terror policies, such as his use of drones to kill terrorists, failing to close Guantanamo and detaining terror suspects without charge, they felt it would not. CSIS’ Conley argued that Obama’s popularity in Europe made such policies less problematic for Europeans than they were in the administration of George W Bush. Volker agreed that there was “greater understanding” among Europeans of the issue now due to Obama’s popularity. Ellen Tauscher, vice-chair of the Scowcroft Centre on International Security, felt that there was little divergence between Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney, on counter-terror policy and that their stance boiled down to two basic messages: “I’m the toughest guy in the world and the other guy is a fool,” and “who loves Israel the most”.