Poetry and prose on Obama's Europe trip


President Obama's trip to Europe will be a melange of pageantry and policy, and the political equivalent of both poetry and prose.

It is quite a trip. Ireland, Britain, France and Poland, taking in leaders of Africa and Russia as well, although he won't actually be going to either that continent or that country. He will, ever so gently, and without the help of cheesy visual aids that Hillary Clinton once employed press the reset button on relations with Europe.

First to Ireland for the fun bit, with a healthy dose of electioneering. Don't forget the date. Next year is 2012, the year of a presidential election and the US has 40 million people who claim Irish ancestry. So the president will drink a pint of Guinness in Moneygall and honour his ancestor, Joseph Kearney.

Then off to London to see the Queen. It's a state visit so expect lots of trumpets and glorious uniforms. The president and the first lady are staying in Buckingham Palace.

moneygall resident The Irish village of Moneygall is getting ready for its VIP visitor

The centrepiece of the whole tour will be a speech in Westminster Hall. There will be lots of warm words about the special relationship. The White House took a bruising learning in how obsessed the British press (although I suspect not politicians or the public) are about taking the temperature of that relationship.

But it is true that President Obama didn't care for Gordon Brown, and doesn't have an instinctive, ancestral love for the UK that is common among Wasps (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) on the Eastern seaboard.

He seemed to take both Britain and the rest of Europe for granted, missing one of those interminable EU/US get-togethers.

All that is changing. He seems to get on with David Cameron, says the Queen is "wonderful and warm" and his policy makers are making a fresh start with Europe as a whole.

They say that Europe is no longer the object of policy, it is the partner in policy towards the rest of the world, the catalyst for change in the world. Their fear is that Europe and the UK, after defence cuts, may not have the resources to play the part they want.

In practical terms Afghanistan will be very high on the agenda, as will Libya, followed by the Middle East peace process or lack of it.

All this will also be the subject of discussions at the G8 in France. There he will meet President Medvedev of Russia. Leaders from Egypt and Tunisia will be there to talk about a big fear in Washington and the European capitals. That is as the Arab spring turns to the heat of the Arab summer, those angry young men are still angry about the lack of jobs and opportunity.

There will then be a meeting with nine leaders from African countries - Algeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.

Finally Poland. There are many Polish Americans too, so the president will have one eye on domestic politics. But like the UK and France, Poland has military punch above its weight and is an important ally. I'll be following the president on the first leg of his visit, so you read plenty more here in the coming week.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Has no professional opinion' maker' (not specifically here but alia/ alii) realised the ''sine qua non ?id est -there is a causal relationship.. Without F.Kearney...there woud be no succesive births-id est- No President Obama!

    Neil Armstrong

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    The way they got America going again after depression and WWII was by increasing our industry.

    Its the way that we need to get going again.

    America's industry is the key to America.

    Most people say they would rather make toys than guns...

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Lucy, Apple is not the richest U.S. technology co,. in the U.S.

    far from it.

    And it's not doing so well even in the U.S. market recently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Pmk: Why Americans are bying cheap Chinese goods of poor quality is a mystery to me as well.

    They buy them cause' that's whats being offered...the majority of products in Wal-mart and most stores are from China

    There was an explosion in a plant at China the other day and what the product?

    American Apple ipad 2's...

    So even our richest technology company makes its goods in China

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    @re 104

    can you back up this statement please. I know in Gulf War1 more British troops were killed by US Blue on Blue than by Iraqi troops. When I was in the IDF we joked that as long as we never have to go to war alongside the USA we'll be OK

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    IF re PMK 32: "No reform of Social Security."

    Ok, so which previous President did any better?

    The president you love to hate: George W. Bush.

    Who persistently offered reasonable and sensible alternatives to the current SS scheme.

    And it was Democrats in Congress who refused to even debate it;
    let alone vote it up or down.

    BTW.No real bank laws reform has been offered by BHO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    strorium007 asks:
    "Why Americans prefer to buy expensive German goods over goods made in the USA is a mystery to me and almost self destructive"

    Why Americans are bying cheap Chinese goods of poor quality is a mystery to me as well.

    As well as our infatuation with self-destructive Toytotas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Interested Foreginer: "Pay attn: Khamenei is being pushed out by Pr. Dinner-jacket."

    PM: I do, IF, and It's just the opposite.

    Grand Ayatollah Khamenei is pushing out Dinner-jacket.

    "US is also relentlessly undermining N. Kor."

    How? By BHO now considering resuming food aid to Kim Jong-il's homicidal regime and its factotums?

    [food never reaches common N. Koreans; never has.]

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Re #95 IF

    "Libya done on a shoestring, others paying for most of it."

    It's as true as somebody else's claim that US taxpayers pay merely for Air Force One flight to the homeland of Mr. O'Bama.

    (subs, aircraft carriers,etc. deployed, as well as B-1s and B-2s. Ca 150 Tomahaws fired @ $1 million a piece)

    "Egypt, low cost."

    1 BILLION extra dollars just given to Egypt is small peanuts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    "But then who would you shoot at and drop bombs on?"

    If Brits did any in-depth research they'd find that British troops, despite having less troops and almost zero responsibility in providing air support, have caused more friendly fire than the US. In fact, 4/5 times US troops shot Brits, the Brits called bombs in on their own positions on accident. Typical British hypocrisy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    "You will find in the future that the European-descended nations of the world need each other rather more than they realised they did."

    The US is not Europe. The US is a truly multicultural country. The US should have no allegiance to the old world.

    "you may find the waters closing over your head before they claim old Europe."

    Europe's economy is way worse than the US economy in every metric.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    100 Scott.
    The shareholders took a bath.
    The government insisted on cleaning house in management.
    At least the public is being paid back - and ahead of time.

    Ford's shareholders, on the other hand, have done ok.

    And if you bought when Ford was

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    70 strontiumdog writes:
    "I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier".
    Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1942-45
    Not very original. How about:
    "The Balkans aren't worth the life of a single Pomeranian (German) Grenadier."
    Otto von Bismarck 1815-1898

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    re. #97 by Interestedforeigner: I disagree with your statement about the bailouts. Yes, allowing banks and imanufacturers to fail would have caused a lot of short term pain--probably enough to ensure real reforms of the both the industries and the regulatory process. Instead we got an incentive for business as usual because the taxpayer, not the shareholder, will bear the burden of bad decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    ...but there's a huge love for Catholic votes and particularly Irish Catholic votes."


    What a ludicrous, preposterous statement. The "Irish Catholic vote" has almost disappeared as a separate issue; it has not existed for decades. This is not 1930.

    Whoever wrote this knows nothing at all about the US or the American political scene. Quite inexcusable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    PMK 32: No reform of Social Security.

    Ok, so which previous President did any better?

    The Republican-controlled House has advanced credible proposals has it?

    This 400 characters thing is nuts. It prevents considered arguments from being presented.

    It turns postings into Haiku.

    There is no flow in the blog anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    32. PMK - Insurance for Banks

    No choice. That mess was created by GWB.

    Pres. Obama made a very orthodox response. In the end, the bailout money for the banks and auto companies is being paid back and American taxpayers seem to be making a profit.

    You should be thankful.
    We're not out of the woods, yet, but, still, it could have been far, far worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    32. "Doing nothing Assad, Khamenei"

    1. Pay attn: Khamenei is being pushed out by Pr. Dinner-jacket.
    2. US is steadily cutting the knees out from under D-j, Assad and Hezbollah. Which US Pres did better?
    3. US is also relentlessly undermining N. Kor.

    Pr. Obama sees the whole board, positions pieces many moves ahead. It shows great subtlety. No wonder Russia, China, India respect him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    32. PMK - Frugality

    Libya done on a shoestring, others paying for most of it.
    Egypt, low cost.
    Death of Bin Laden - huge cost savings now possible.
    Telling Israel that the gravy train is over = big savings

    Getting Russia, China, India and Brazil on-side: When was the last time a US Pres got that kind of thing done?

    Right now laying more groundwork for EU co-operation.

    Very skillful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Germany should be thanking the USA as its second largest export counrty. Why Americans prefer to buy expensive German goods over goods made in the USA is a mystery to me and almost self destructive,


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