If you look at Mr Obama’s top priorities, you get a sense of just how little the Europeans are prepared to give him. More help in Afghanistan? Most Europeans will do the bare minimum. A co-ordinated fiscal stimulus? Sorry, Europe is out of cash as well as troops.
Europe’s grudging attitude to the new president is not only discourteous. It is unwise and self-defeating. Mr Obama is an internationalist. But the American public is war weary and preoccupied by the domestic economic disaster. If even a liberal, internationalist president seems to be getting nothing out of America’s allies, then protectionist and isolationist voices in Congress will only get louder.
Any such development would be disastrous for Europe. The US remains the core of the global economy and the guarantor of security in Europe. The continent’s leaders have a huge interest in fostering and fanning the new American internationalism represented by Mr Obama. Instead, they seem to be doing their utmost to pour cold water on it.