I was asked recently about the perception of Obama in Europe.
Short answer: promises broken – or at best unfulfilled.
BO started out strong, embraced by the Europeans more than anyone else as the “anti-Bush”.
Unfortunately, from a European/international standpoint, little has changed. Obama is keeping with the Bush strategies/plans for Iraq, and doubled down in Afghanistan. He has not closed Gitmo. He has continued the renditions and the “black” CIA holding facilities. He has refused to rescind what Europeans perceive as the excesses the Bush era, especially in arrogating rights of sovereignty and exceptionalism regarding the ICC and other issues. He has failed to lead/execute on important legislative actions, from global warming to START.
Obama has failed to address what Europeans see as the crimes and misdemeanours of the previous Administration, and the latest revelation, that the Obama administration pressured the Spanish government to prevent the (independent) Spanish judiciary from pursuing indictments against 6 Bush Administration officials, is not seen as not only arrogant and improper but counter to international law.
Europeans believe Obama has done next to nothing to chasten the out of control corruption on Wall Street, and despite the rhetoric, Europeans can see that the Obama Administration is rife with characters that helped bring about the “global” financial crisis, and they are aware that is it already back to “business as usual” in the US economic sector.
Make no mistake: Europeans (and others) blame the US for the global economic meltdown, and they see the US government’s systematic dismantling of regulations as the cause. European markets are, as you know, heavily regulated (Ireland and to some extent the UK as notable exceptions), and so they bear no small amount of enmity toward the 800 lb. Gorilla that is the US financial services industry, for they see this gorilla as totally out of control.
There is an old saying: “when the America sneezes, Europe catches a cold”. The EU has been struggling mightily to change that dynamic, but it still obtains to a large degree. Europeans have learned to live with this dynamic, however this time it is different: The economic crisis of 2008 is seen by Europeans as the US “catching a cold” because they were running around in a blizzard wearing nothing but their underwear. IOW, the whole thing could have been avoided by better regulatory control (there is also a perception of America in the grips of a culture of greed, but I won’t get into that).
In sum, the Europeans see Obama much as the far Left in the States see him: running on Change, and delivering not much change at all – at least when it comes to global/international issues.