Huffpost WorldPost
Robert Guttman Headshot

Obama's Trip: Middle East 1: Europe 0

Posted: Updated:

President Barack Obama has made it perfectly clear that the centerpiece of his current trip to the Middle East and Europe is his speech tomorrow in Cairo.

Europe has definitely taken a second place in the minds of the White House on this trip--more of a quick pass by on his way home from the Middle East. To be fair Obama will be back in Europe in July for the G8 economic summit in Italy.

However, on this trip he has downplayed the events in Europe and stressed the speech at Cairo University. Some in Europe are asking why the President doesn't give his speech in France which has one of the largest Arab/Muslim populations in the European Union. The President could just as easily have given this upcoming address in Paris as in Cairo and it would have been as relevant.

While the President is in Saudi Arabia today speaking with the King about oil prices and other weighty issues, very little is being discussed in the world media about Obama's D-Day speech or his visits in Dresden or Buchenwald or to American soldiers in Germany.

Most of the European media seems to be talking about whether or not the Queen of England will show up on the beaches of Normandy or whether the Queen of England was properly invited. People are also wondering whether Prince Charles is the correct royal to come in her place.

Other European commentators are trying to say there is division between President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel. Some analysts are talking about the Germans being snubbed in favor of the French because the president will be spending more time in France than in Germany.

Some transatlantic scholars are saying that France is more popular these days because of the more outgoing personality of French President Sarkozy over the more reserved German Chancellor. There are reports in the German media that Obama feels more comfortable with Sarkozy than with Merkel.

Other commentators are discussing whether or not the president will apologize for the American bombing of Dresden during World War II. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other analysts are talking about the president's "apology tour".

On the 65th anniversary of D-Day some veterans groups are commenting that the whole celebration at Normandy has become too political and is not focused enough on the soldiers who are still alive who will be attending.

In the Middle East and we see commentaries about how the president shouldn't be speaking at the Cairo University because it is not an open environment and shouldn't be speaking in Egypt because it is not all that democratic.

Other articles in the world media are asking why the president didn't go to Israel and others are speculating that the commander-in-chief will make a brief stop-over in Baghdad.

As my title indicates in the soccer-obsessed part of the world of Europe and the Middle East the Europeans are losing this match -at least in the public relations aspect of the trip.

Does any of this criticism matter? Of course it does now but if the president pulls off a brilliant speech tomorrow in Cairo and then wows his European audiences in Normandy and in Dresden his trip will soon be forgotten and we will be looking ahead to his next European visit in July.

After this trip in the spotlight of the world media, the President and First Lady will deserve a day or evening of sightseeing in Paris.