Obama Snubs Europe! Again!

Obama Nobel SpeechOnce again, President Obama has offended some Europeans by “snubbing” them.  This time, it’s the Norwegians, who are apparently “incensed” that he was “rude” in not attending all the festivities Nobel laureates usually participate in, notably lunch with the king.   It’s getting some play in the blogosphere.

As I argue in my New Atlanticist essay “Obama ‘Snubs’ Norwegians en Route to Nobel Prize,” though, the overweening sensitivities on the other side of the Pond are getting a bit old.

Perhaps it’s bad form to accept one’s award and then run out before the dinner’s over, metaphorically speaking. But the fact of the matter is that most Nobel recipients have a little less on their plate than Obama, who is managing two major wars and an economic mess while trying to overhaul the health care system.

Oh, and by the way, his acceptance speech was surprisingly strong, forthrightly defending America’s place in the world and calling on the NATO Allies to do more.

Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this:  The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.  The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans.  We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will.  We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.


America’s commitment to global security will never waver.  But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone.  America alone cannot secure the peace.  This is true in Afghanistan.  This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering.  And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries, and other friends and allies, demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they’ve shown in Afghanistan.  But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public.  I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this:  The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.  Peace requires responsibility.  Peace entails sacrifice.  That’s why NATO continues to be indispensable.

Ultimately, Obama’s commitment to this ideal — and Europe’s response to it — will matter for more for transatlantic relations than a missed meal or a poorly chosen gift.

Photo: Reuters Pictures.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Europe, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    My guess is that, if the Nobel Prize committee were taking the vote last Monday rather than when they did, Obama wouldn’t have received the prize at all. I think that the remarks of the committee’s representative reflect that.

    However, I thought that President Obama’s speech was excellent and one that he didn’t have to give. If he were as bad as his detractors think/fear, he could have played to the house, bashed America, laid the blame solely his predecessor, ignored the strategic consequences of the failure to recognize the power that the U. S. has and what happens when we fail to exert it when it’s necessary, and so on. But he didn’t. If it wasn’t a home run, it was at least a base hit.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Agreed on all points.

  3. James:

    “Surprisingly strong.”

    Not even a little surprising. Not to those who see what’s right there in front of their noses.

  4. steve says:

    A good statement of his principles and goals. Would that they were easily achieved.


  5. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t believe Roosevelt or Wilson accepted the prize in person, they sent somebody. Wilson was probably incapacitated by this time and some might argue that the relative distance to travel is less today, but if you want to give American Presidents a prize Euro-weenies, you should expect (a) they might be busy, and (b) they might use the speech as an opportunity to further an American agenda.

  6. Drew says:

    I’d comment more completely, but this would make me part of a slobbering, self congratulatory mess.

    Look, The President did a fine job in a difficult situation. He did what he had to do. Let others waste their time worrying about the protocol stuff.

  7. Gustopher says:

    What was the king serving for lunch? Eh?

    Perhaps the real diplomatic faux pas was the Norweigans serving non-halal meats, and expecting Barack Hussein Obama to betray his Muslim traditions and eat it.

    Or it could have been Lutefisk. Should anyone really hold it against someone that they duck out of a lutefisk lunch?

  8. sam says:

    Look, The President did a fine job in a difficult situation. He did what he had to do. Let others waste their time worrying about the protocol stuff.

    Hear, hear. Of course, you wouldn’t gather this from those niggling pissants over at NRO. Carping losers.