Afghanistan will stay on top of the list of priorities of US President-elect Barack Obama as he taps into the post-US election euphoria in Europe, reaching out to grass root level European sentiments to coax Europe to do more to help defeat the Afghanistan insurgency, political pundits observed in Brussels last week.
David Ignatius, associate editor and columnist for the Washington Post said, “Obama has to deliver on his promise to end war in Iraq along with, to move early on Arab-Israeli conflict so as not to lose momentum,” adding, “intensity of enthusiasm of Obama supporters can be tapped into to get much needed support for Afghanistan policies.”
Addressing a select audience of journalists, diplomats and civil society representatives, Ignatius said, “The essence of Obama’s style is that he is Mr. Cool to an unusual level and is not yet knocked off from center point ... I have never seen a campaign better run than this one.”
“Depending on the recommendations of US General (David) Petraeus coming later, I have the impression from Obama’s advisors at this moment that the policy will be go for a surge and then negotiations,” Ignatius told an event titled, “Transatlantic Relations after the US elections: What now?” organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States on November 7 in Brussels.
On relations with militants and Iran, he said, “Saudi Arabia is trying to meditate with Taliban and it seem there will be talks with reconcilable elements of Taliban. There can also be broad dialogue with Iran but on the assumption that Iran may not be ready for yes yet,” adding, “Obama has an unusually gifted sense of timing.”
Warning, “The clock is ticking,” Ignatius asked Europeans to be prepared to impose tough sanctions if diplomatic efforts fail, saying, “We need to make tougher sanctions - much to what really hurts.”
Citing the upcoming “renewal of NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty),” Robert Cooper, Director General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the Council of the European Union said, “If we wish to maintain it, its not just about dealing with Iran but its also about providing all countries with nuclear options for peaceful uses.”
“With Russia and China,” there is a “need to have a fundamental relationship,” Ignatius stressed.
Cooper called the events in Georgia, “a profound shock,” saying, “that changed the context of relations with Russia.” He, however, ruled out the military solutions saying, “solutions to problems are always political and that involves talking to people.”
On the issue of fight against climate change the speakers agreed that the US will be able to take the lead as the recent falling apart of the EU consensus on the issue was pointed out.
In a lighter tone, Cooper said, “Europe is always divided on something then agrees and then gets divided on something else but in Europe being divided means Europe is in the process of making a decision.”
Ignatius pointed at the “intensity of enthusiasm of young supporters of Obama,” with their passion and suggested that this can be involved both in the US and Europe,” along with Asian giants China and India, to address the climate change on a global scale.
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