[Guest post by DRJ]
Following his visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Barack Obama will complete his international trip with brief stops in Europe including appearances at Buchenwald with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and at the D-Day memorial with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Unfortunately, U.S. relations with Germany are becoming increasingly strained, a tension that dates back to the Presidential campaign when “Merkel rejected Mr. Obama’s request during the presidential campaign to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate.” In today’s visit at Buchenwald, Obama appropriately rebuked Holocaust deniers but also expressed “grief and … outrage” for German actions in World War II, a marked contrast to the understanding that characterized his recent message to the world’s Muslims.
Obama’s attitude toward French President Sarkozy is similarly strained. Last week Obama surprised both the French and British with his efforts to get the Queen invited to this weekend’s D-Day memorial. Today Obama refused a dinner invitation from Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni. The UK Times speculates Obama’s irritation stems from Sarkozy’s treament of him at the G20 summit in London:
“Mr Obama’s irritation with his French counterpart began when Mr Sarkozy tried to grab the limelight at the G20 summit in London in April and talked condescendingly of the US President in private. Mr Sarkozy told colleagues that he found Mr Obama to be inexperienced and unbriefed, especially on climate change. Mr Obama hit back last month, telling a visiting French minister: “Please tell Nicolas that I shall do my homework, and in two months I’ll know all about climate change.”
By conceding that he will know “all about” climate change at their next meeting, Obama tacitly admits he was not prepared on climate change at the G20. In other words, Sarkozy may have been right when he said Obama was “inexperienced and unbriefed, especially on climate change.” Now Obama is telling Sarkozy not to mess with the coolest kid on the block.