Goals of Obama's overseas trip debated

April 8, 2009 at 8:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama returned Wednesday from his first overseas visit as commander in chief with analysts debating whether he achieved his goals.

Despite the warm reception he received at nearly every stop, Obama fell short on getting European allies to open their wallets for increased stimulus spending or commit to sending more troops to Afghanistan for long-term deployment, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

"Why didn't the waters part, the sun shine and all ills of the world disappear because President Obama came to Europe this week? That wasn't our expectation," David Axelrod, a key Obama aide, said to the Post. "We understand ... that this involves solving the problems, the difficult, thorny problems we face in the world."

Advisers point to the Group of 20's commitment of more than $1 trillion to the International Monetary Fund and programs to pick up the global economy and protect the poorest nations from the economic downturn. In addition, new arms reduction talks are on tap with Russia and Obama outlined a basis for improving U.S. relations with the world.

"There was a sense that America was back. So many of the leaders basically said, 'It's nice to have America back at its place,'" White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

Critics, however, said Obama showed more form than substance, the Post said.

Thomas Donnelly, a foreign and defense policy fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Obama "maintained, and if anything added to, the feeling of bonhomie that the rest of the world now regards him."

Substantively, Donnelly told the Post, there wasn't much "and what there was, if you hold it up to the light, there should be many questions about it."

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