Where is Europe in the U.S. campaign?
WASHINGTON -- Listening to the other side of the Atlantic, it can sound like Europeans feel that their fascination with the U.S. election campaign is unrequited. Wolfgang Ischinger recently worried that the European Union "hardly ever appears in the speeches and debates of the candidates." Is it true that the candidates for the president of the United States are completely uninterested in Europe? No, but you have to know how to read what they say.
This post is part of the launch of a new website at GMF to provide information on the debates going on over here that often don't seem to make it across the Atlantic. I'll be blogging regularly here, but the general issue of "where is Europe in the campaign?" seems like the right place to start. Europeans should hear themselves in one of the most frequent campaign refrains among the candidates €“ the need to"restore America's standing" in the world. You can see this phrase in the platforms of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. John McCain says that America "must be a good role model" and "listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."
While the candidates certainly also include America's image in the Middle East in their worries, they are mostly referring to Europe and the decline in the image of the United States after the war in Iraq. We've documented this decline in the GMF annual survey, Transatlantic Trends, but what's perhaps most interesting these days are the signs that the image of the United States may already be improving: a recent BBC poll showed a small but across the board uptick in the percentage of people who view U.S. influence in the world positively. Even more remarkably, German confidence in the United States as a partner increased by 21% to 53% since last year. Could it be, as a German colleague of mine said recently, that the election campaign will do more to improve the image of the United States than any public diplomacy effort could ever hope for? Stay tuned, and check out our website's regular feature of key issues in the campaign!
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.