Corridors of Power: Sarkozy Tries to Get Obama and Spain to the Table, and More

Corridors of Power: Sarkozy Tries to Get Obama and Spain to the Table, and More

FROM SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE TO PRESIDENT-ELECT -- Amid the global euphoria -- to say nothing of the often grudging admiration for the United States -- following Barack Obama's landslide victory, European ambassadors in Washington were already cautioning their governments that the new president will be no pushover. One ambassador said Friday, "On many major issues, there's not a lot of difference in substance between an Obama administration and a McCain administration. However, where McCain could have been unpredictable, the Obama leitmotif has been mending international fences, so we can expect him to be tough, but hopefully open to reason."

While it's early days yet, and he has clearly set the economy as his first priority, many expect Obama -- given his concern about the downward slide in Afghanistan -- to ask for more troops from America's NATO allies than they are willing to cough up. He is also likely to press the European contingents to loosen the restrictions and "caveats" on their rules of engagement more than they'd like, even though engaging the Taliban more closely on the ground is one way of reducing aerial attacks that bring damding charges of civilian casualties.

With regard to Iran, Obama might be prepared to raise the level of negotiations, but he is also likely to be tougher on sanctions than the European Union. Like his erstwhile Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, he has also backed NATO membership for Georgia in his campaign speeches and interviews, a move which France and Germany strongly oppose. And while not using as strong rhetoric as McCain, Obama has not seemed in any particular hurry to mend fences with Moscow -- another E.U. priority -- either, supporting Bush's deployment of missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic over Vladimir Putin's objections.

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