Economic policy fights, spying allegations and an overall U.S. foreign policy pivot towards Asia have all contributed to an Obama-Europe divide. But the crisis with Russia and Ukraine means Obama has to push past any hurt feelings from the Continent.
This week, Obama will make his first trip to the European Union headquarters in Brussels as part of his tour that includes a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands, a G-7 meeting in The Hague and a visit with Pope Francis in Vatican City.
“It’s surprising the relationship’s not better” said Kori Schake, a State Department official under President George W. Bush and a top adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “The administration’s preference for economic and diplomatic tools is much more aligned with the Europeans’ preference than the previous administration. And also they like [Obama]. He’s more likeable to their sensibility.”
Obama’s first term saw relations strained by deep disagreement over how to grapple with the global economic downturn and what the U.S. viewed as a lumbering European response to its banking and debt crisis, which threatened to put the brakes on the American economy in advance of the 2012 campaign.