As Europe watches Arab unrest, fears over oil, migration shade its response
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is reportedly miffed that President Obama abandoned Hosni Mubarak so soon, and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi defended the ousted leader a week after he fell. Mr. Berlusconi is also the closest EU leader to Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.
Much of the fear in Europe involves sudden changes to a status quo the Continent has been comfortable with for years. Arab autocrats policed borders and coasts to stop migrants heading north, and won Western support by presenting themselves as bulwarks against Islamic extremism. Human rights issues were rarely raised.
"The Obama people played this well," says Antoine Sfeir, director of the Middle East Journal in Paris. "Obama understands the Facebook generation. But in the European popular mind there's been a tendency to view this through an Islamic lens. In fact, we are arriving back to the fundamental 14 points of President Wilson in 1917, and self-determination. The EU needs to rethink its checkbook diplomacy to the Middle East and engage in things like funding schools."