Obama Tells Europe, ‘We Can Meet Any Challenge As Long As We’re Together’
April 3, 2009 - 9:53 AM"In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world," President Barack Obama told a crowd of Europeans in France on Friday
He mentioned a “common prosperity” and a “common security,” the latter a push for Europe to provide additional help in Afghanistan.
“America is changing,” President Barack Obama told a European audience on Friday. “But it cannot be America alone that changes.” Obama called for “unprecedented cooperation” between Europe and the United States – on the economic crisis and other challenges.”
“I’ve come to Europe this week to renew our partnership – one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies – but where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden. Together, we must forge common solutions to our common problems,” Obama said.
“In recent years, we’ve allowed our alliance to drift,” Obama said, a reference to the Bush years. He mentioned honest disagreements over policy, but he said the problems go beyond that:
“In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America’s shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
“But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what’s bad.”
Obama said such attitudes are unwise and untrue and isolating: “They fail to recognize the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.”
Recognizing that there is “doubt” in Europe about the war in Afghanistan, Obama told the crowd of mostly college student that the U.S. would not send its own troops to Afghanistan “if this mission was not indispensable to our common security.”
He told the Europeans that the United States “did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan” but rather had war thrust upon them by an al-Qaeda attack on U.S. soil.
Al-Qaeda is still plotting today, he said. “And if there is another al-Qaeda attack, it is just as likely if not more that it will be here in Europe – in a European city.”
Obama said he’s asked NATO for more civilian and military support: “We do this with a clear purpose, to root out the terrorists who threaten all of us, to train the Afghan people to sustain their own security, and to help them advance their own opportunity, and to quicken the day when our own troops come home.”
Obama said the U.S. has no interest in occupying Afghanistan. “But this is a mission that tests whether nations can come together in common purpose on behalf of our common security.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to send more police trainers and civilian aid to Afghanistan: “We totally endorse and support America's new strategy in Afghanistan," Sarkozy told a joint news conference after talks with Obama.
Obama plans to send another 21,000 U.S. troops to the 38,000 who already are there, fighting the rising insurgency. Europeans have been more enthusiastic about increasing humanitarian and development aid than adding soldiers.
Aside from a common defense, Obama raised global warming as a global challenge, telling the students, “This is the generation that must also stop the spread of the pollution that is killing our planet.”
Obama said the effects of climate change are in plain sight. He said Europe already is acting “with the seriousness of purpose that this challenge demands.” And since he became president, Obama noted that “America has begun to take unprecedented steps to transform the way that we use energy.”
But all nations must do more, he said, mentioning India and China by name.
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