European Press Review: Obama Made The Right Choices | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 02.12.2008
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European Press Review: Obama Made The Right Choices

Europe's papers welcomed US President-elect Barack Obama's choices for his new administration. The ace in the hole is Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State. But will she play the game by his rules?

President-elect Barack Obama shakes hands with Secretary of State-designate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Obama and Clinton want to put their differences behind them

Spain's El Mundo said Obama's choices of nominating Clinton, as well as keeping Robert Gates as defense secretary showed that he was willing for his political decisions to be put into question. The Madrid paper said differences were marginal between Obama and Clinton, despite their heated debates during the presidential campaign.

"Both want to place the main focus on diplomacy and only employ military force in extreme cases," it said. Obama, of course, cannot make any decisions as president yet.

"One can therefore only judge him based on the selection of this team -- and he has fulfilled the boldest expectations," El Mundo wrote.

Bill Clinton is an uncertain factor

Obama and Bill Clintion

Will Sen. Clinton's husband sabotage her service under Obama?

Switzerland's Tages-Anzeiger called Clinton's nomination "the ace in the hole" in foreign and security policy of the future government. The value of this trump card will still have to show itself.

"But the fourth strongest card, the trump king, the husband of the queen, is not in Obama's hands: Bill Clinton remains uncontrollable despite assurances to the contrary," the Zurich paper said. "Whether the former president, who today operates his own private foreign policy, plays by the rules of the Obama administration is highly uncertain."

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter said with Clinton, Obama gains a well-known and respected politician in this position. It's also clear that she stands for a change of course in foreign policy.

"The world will notice that George W. Bush has handed over power," the Stockholm-based paper commented. "Maybe we will even experience a more active USA in those areas where American action is truly necessary."

The USA could do more to stop genocide or other mass assaults, it said. Iraq was an exception. In most cases, the passiveness of the USA caused greater problems than vice versa.

"The world needs a new and committed USA," the paper wrote.

A strong team the world will feel

For Germany's Der Tagesspiegel, Obama's new team with Clinton, Gates and James Jones as national security advisor represented "change with hawks."

"Obama can possibly reach his goals more easily with them than with doves," the Berlin daily wrote. "When Gates oversees the withdrawal from Iraq, when Hillary negotiates with the Mullahs in Tehran, who can then accuse Obama of failing to ensure the necessary toughness?"

The Financial Times Deutschland said critics shouldn't accuse Obama of not fulfilling his promise of change. This is simply not possible for foreign policy, as "a new man in the White House simply can't draw new lines of diplomacy," the business daily said. An abrupt change in foreign policy would not be suitable at this time.

"US foreign policy does need a renewal after eight years of George W. Bush -- but first and foremost a new beginning in demeanor and tone towards allies und international organizations," it said. "Obama's team is the right one for this job."

Austria's Die Presse in Vienna said a strong team in foreign and security policy supports Obama internationally so that he can concentrate on the most pressing domestic issue: the economic crisis.

Joe Biden backlit

Much of the world is in the dark on how much influence Joe Biden will have

"Clinton's nomination also helps Obama unite the entire Democratic Party behind his policies and he has a tough negotiator at his side," the paper opined. "Not only countries such as Iran will sense this, but also the NATO partners in Europe, namely when it comes to broaching their contributions to the Afghanistan deployment."

Italy's La Repubblica called Obama's cabinet "the strongest squad." It represented a first-class team which can achieve great results.

"At the same time, though, it is laced with such strong personalities that the danger of massive quarrelling is significant," the Rome paper said. Vice-president-elect Joe Biden, who considers himself the biggest expert of all in foreign policy, cannot be forgotten here.

"He will not waive his right to raise his voice," it said.

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