On September 11, The German Marshall Fund of the United States hosted a discussion on transatlantic relations and relations between the U.S. and France at Sciences Po in Paris. The backdrop for the event was the recently released Transatlantic Trends, GMF's annual survey on foreign policy issues on both sides of the Atlantic which was presented by Francois Lafond, Director of the GMF Paris office. Philip Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian affairs of the U.S. State Department; David Ignatius, author and columnist for the Washington Post; François Richier, Advisor to the President of the French Republic on International security and military-political issues; and Nicole Bacharan, Political scientist and Senior Researcher at Sciences Po commented on the findings and offered their views of transatlantic relations under the new Obama administration. Gordon began his commentary by saying the U.S. Government was pleased with the findings of the survey which showed European support for U.S. President Barack Obama's handling of foreign policy quadrupled the approval given to his predecessor, George W. Bush. "We hope to have a better hearing and be able to persuade our partners to work together," he said. He went on to say that there hasn't been a time in history where the U.S. and Europe were more in line in how we think about big issues as we are today. "Sometimes we have to struggle to find areas of disagreement," he explained. Gordon cautioned that transatlantic cooperation is necessary, but sometimes that it is not enough to get things done. He said the U.S. needs strong European partners and the three visits President Obama made in Europe are signals that Obama values what is going on in Europe. Richier explained that President Sarkozy has helped the French psyche by making it okay to speak about transatlantic cooperation and express interested in the United States.
He outlined several areas of cooperation with the U.S. including Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, NATO, energy and global economic governance. Richier underlined that the French are eager to coordinate on making structured decisions and that now is the time act through dialogue and agreement. Providing the cautionary view, Bacharan pointed out that it is easy to get a ninety percent approval rating in a country that isn't going to raise your taxes. She said that she felt that for most Europeans, Obama represents the American dream. She went on to point out the difference of opinion in the survey on the use of military in response to conflicts as a place where Americans and Europeans still diverge. Ignatius moderated the discussion, saying first that it is good to be popular; but also pointed out that there is a downside to popularity. "It is hard to stay popular, you are almost inevitably going to fall after being on such a high platform," Ignatius said in explaining why America needs partners.