UPDATE: Will you miss Obama? The outgoing US president claims that he delivered on his campaign promises of “hope” and “change” during his eight years in office. He believes that his administration helped stabilise the US economy, cutting unemployment to pre-2008 levels. In terms of foreign policy, the outgoing president points to agreements on climate change, a nuclear weapons deal with Iran, normalised relations with Cuba, and the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Critics, however, argue that US wages and economic growth have stagnated for the past 8 years. They point to numerous perceived foreign policy failings, including the rise of ISIS, the failure to establish credible “red lines” in Syria, and the chaos of post-revolutionary Libya. Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear programme continues to tick along, and Russia seems more concerned by the price of oil and gas than by the sanctions regime Obama helped put in place following the annexation of Crimea.

So, was the Obama administration a success? How do you think it will compare to the incoming administration of Donald Trump? And was Obama a good president from a European perspective? As ever, let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below!

ORIGINAL (13/07/2016): That’s (almost) all, folks! In November 2016, Americans will elect a new president to replace Barack Obama. After eight years, it will be time for historians to start pondering Obama’s legacy – from healthcare reforms, to detente with Iran and Cuba.

From a European perspective, it’s been something of a bumpy ride. It’s safe to say that the 2003 Iraq war had sorely tested transatlantic relations, and the European appetite for “Hope” and “Change” was enormous. Obamamania was at a fever pitch in Europe before Obama even assumed the mantle of president, with an estimated 200,000 people coming to hear him speak in Berlin during the 2008 election campaign.

However, stratospherically-high expectations inevitably gave way to disappointment. For his part, Obama seemed determined to de-emphasise America’s disproportionate focus on Europe (a relic of the Cold War), and expand US horizons to include the booming economies of Asia. He was to be America’s first ‘Pacific president’.

A series of crises, however, forced Obama to keep one eye on Europe at all times (usually installed on Angela Merkel’s iPhone). From the 2012 European debt crisis, to the Arab Spring and bombing campaign in Libya, to the Russian annexation of Crimea, there was always something going wrong in Europe or its neighbourhood. Amidst all this, US-Europe relations reached arguably their lowest point under Obama, thanks to the NSA spying scandal.

Ultimately, however, was Barack Obama a good US president from a European perspective? We had a comment from Andreea, who said he predicted Obama’s legacy would be seen as a broadly positive one in Europe. To get a reaction, we spoke to Keith Jacomine, Chair of the Democrats Abroad Austria. As a US citizen living in Europe, how would he rate Obama’s legacy on EU-US relations?

jacomineWell, I think President Obama has restored respect for the office of the US president abroad, and there have been many studies where President Obama’s popularity and respect have been judged throughout Europe and the world, and I think the majority of countries have shown that they have confidence in President Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs. And I think he has instituted new policies and diplomacy, and he has changed the rhetoric of the American presidency in Europe and around the world, and I think his favourability ratings have gone up substantially because of it.

For another perspective, we also spoke to Renee Nielsen, Chair of the Republicans Abroad Netherlands. Would she be more critical? And did she see any key differences between the policies of Barack Obama and those of his predecessor, George W. Bush?

reneeI would say that the policy under George W. Bush was to continue to have a strong relationship with Europe. Many European countries are NATO allies – we have the so-called ‘Special Relationship’ with the British, but all of our allies in Europe are very important. We have, for the most part, common interests and goals.

I do understand that the Iraq war caused strife between our two continents, and so in that context you can say that Barack Obama has had a stronger relationship with Europe in terms of public opinion. The actual policy differences are often more perceived than real, because some of them were the same: The rendition programme continued under Obama, and the drone programme was expanded under Obama.

So, the perception is that he’s been better for Europe, and the image of the United States has improved since Barrack Obama took office. But I would say that that has in part to do with the drum-beat of negativity surrounding the Iraq war under President Bush, and then the excitement for change. I think that, politically, especially in Western Europe, young people and the media have a more like-minded view with the Democrat Party than with the Republican Party, so – regardless of which president came in – as long as it was a Democrat it was going to improve relations between the Europe and the US.

Was Obama a good US president for Europe? Will Obama’s legacy be good for the EU-US relationship? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – US Embassy, Jakarta

176 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Franck Néo Legon

    no, USA’s Irak, Syria wars, IS waging, and Ukrain coups are a real pain for Europe. ( but not for EU whose complicity is obvious)

  2. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    The Americans invented & financed the EU so everything Brussels does is in-line with the current American presidents mandate.

  3. avatar
    Ibrahim Ciise

    American want europe to start with russia an that will be the ending of europe its new world other

  4. avatar
    Martin Unterholzner

    When Obama came to the office, I was optimistic like most of the people outside the US. Now, however, my perspective has changed completely. His presidency was a total failure for the world because of several reasons:
    – His decision to rush to withdraw the troops from Iraq left a power vacuum whose consequence is the rise of the IS.
    – He did not push to make any progress in the palestinian conflict
    – He abused the threat of terrorism to promote and implement global ubiquitous surveillance, including spying on allies and friendly nation states. This practice is still beeing followed and even extended.
    – Instead of jailing the responsible people that broke the law by allowing mass surveillance and lying in court and to congress he approved prosecution of whistleblowers and restrictions on press freedom about those issues.
    – He approved extrajudicial killings through drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Those killings are still carried out.
    – He promoted fracking which will cause local environmental damage and not help to stop global warming
    – He did not push to declassify the investigation results around 9/11 (28 pages)
    – The West in general demonizes Russia (pushed by the US) and supports efforts to militarize Eastern Europe. This could be a recipe to disaster.
    – The US played a negative role in the conflict in Ukraine. Europe was forced by the US to impose sanctions on Russia, which harm European economies and will only bring Russia closer to China.
    – European efforts to mitigate tensions in Ukraise are laughed at by the US (Victoria Newland: “fuck the EU”)

  5. avatar
    GonEprata Megarp

    Ask the americans, no president that disgraces his country is any good for any other country or continent, whata stupid question, if people want to debate europe, they should render and reform the FMI and big banksters as too powerfull, burucratic, and a destroyer of nations sovereingns , a system that makes people poor and then tells them how good it is,a system designed to lock countries on debt and then use them in foreing wars that neither the american or the european wants, they rule europe throught economic terrorism (brussels) and its usseless to debate europe if it is to debate if the us presendency was good, what a joke, nothing will ever change for the better like this, this just shows how people are allienated from the political shepere, thats the work of controlled media.

  6. avatar
    Emil Pavlovich

    No good to Europe,no good to US,only good for certain people with a lot of power and money to become even more powerful and richer.Elites win short term but nobody knows the longterm consequences.We are heading towards reality which is widely expressed in the movie “Elyseum”.

  7. avatar
    Joaquim Brito

    Wrong idea.. .Europe don’t give two cents for the president.
    Was wrong and bed impression from the beginning !!!

  8. avatar
    Susanna Vega

    the USA has never been good for Europe….. it´s the revenge of the long-departed children :P

  9. avatar
    Alex Tselentis

    NO .. Does trying to needlessly trigger WW3 with Russia sound like a good idea ? How about the needless sanctions that have cost EU more than 100 BILLION in losses ? All Americas demands, that Europe suffer for.

  10. avatar
    Miguel Ângelo

    Are you guys kidding me?
    He has been one the best presidents in my opinion. His posture is what makes him so united with everyone. He cant be perfect, no doubt about that but to be very honest he changed the perspective of many things including race, equality and freedom. As bad as bush? Spare me. Bush put his nose in businesses that werent up to him. I dont see how obama ” COINCIDENTLY ” had the the task force that killed osama bin laden. Im pretty sure he has one of the greatest impacts in my generation so to speak for a very long time. I love that man and i might not be living or working in the usa but i dont see a terrorist. I dont see malefic postures. Europe never really needs help from the usa. In fact europe is better than the us. They just dont get along and equalize the economic deficiency. Its an individual problem. Not the president’s problem. But thats just my opinion

  11. avatar
    Danny Boy

    A great public orator,but was held back politically by a republican congress who hated him for being liberal and frankly for being black.

  12. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    As a non EU politician- I wouldn’t know. He comes across as a jolly good fellow- a charming salesman for American neo con globalist policies, with its well known aims. Leading, overseeing & in cahoots with all willing lackeys in the Brussels EU.

    A transformed Uncle Sam today, than the one after WWII- who sponsored peanut butter, instead of corporate & military globalism- abolishing outdated populist democracy in the process- while preaching democracy & human rights! His last sin- he tried to influence Brexit- but failed! Yes, good for one (1 western) world government!


  13. avatar

    Backing Gorge Soros “business”, I would say he was a disappointment.

  14. avatar
    António Barreto

    No! Obama was interested in developing the commercial relashionship with the western Pacific countries, rather than european countries. Americans are not interested in strong europe and strong euro coin; they need to protect their coin and their economy.

  15. avatar
    Carlos Abreu

    It is not possible a USA President be good for Europe. The americans try to be good for themselves and most of the times aren’t.

  16. avatar
    Tomás Eisele Meneses

    Good. Most europeans would vote Democrate if they would vote in the US. Obama is someone that builds bridges with others, in other words a much more constructive attitude. I believe that matters in politics.

  17. avatar
    Margarita G. Soto

    I think he is one of the best presidents..regarding the relationship with Europe and as well as for the USA.

  18. avatar
    Jason Picci

    Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine. Death, Destruction, Refugees. Isis. He was a good president for the Kalergi Planners and Soros, but I suspect not quite good enough for the armament fellowship of the Kagans/Nulands, Brezinskys, Clintons and McCains.

  19. avatar
    Anti-EU Citizen

    No and Hitlery Clinton will be worse.If Hitlery becomes president of USA expect new wars… (AIPAC told her so)

  20. avatar
    Shiny Y. Park

    You can simply see it: EU is at the edge of downfall economically and politically, Germany is flooded with millions of islam young men, France and Belgium experience terrors frequently, war everywhere in middle east. All are Obama’s legacy, so what would you say? Even USAmerica is divided.

  21. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto vestias

    Yes President Obama it was good for europe al my congratulations President Obama

  22. avatar
    Ken Lin

    Armis go home pls . We don’t need your war games around the word

  23. avatar
    Eric de Haan

    If G.W. Bushes policy was a deep valley than Obama’s, though moderate, could be seen as a topper :-)

  24. avatar
    Christiane Charrier

    obama’s presidency IS good for europe and for america, of course, because he IS a very good president ! I will miss him after november ! unfortunately, he can no longer be elected. I wish he was the prseident of france (we have no good politicians here !) hilllary clinton will NEVER replace him, despite I am obliged to wish her to be elected .(because otherwse, it WOULD be donald trump , oh no !!! )

  25. avatar
    christiane charrier

    Christiane Charrier obama’s presidency IS good for europe and for america, of course, because he IS a very good president ! I will miss him after november ! unfortunately, he can no longer be elected. I wish he was the prseident of france (we have no good politicians here !) hilllary clinton will NEVER replace him, despite I am obliged to wish her to be elected .(because otherwse, it WOULD be donald trump , oh no !!! )

  26. avatar

    Best presidency for Europe since F. Roosevelt, although it contributed to the (hopefully temporary) destabilization of the European neighbourhood.

  27. avatar
    Marco Bianchi

    Installing a missile shield in Eastern Europe, backing neo-nazis in Ukraine, destabilizing Syria, destroying Libya and turning it into a failed state, is this how he helped Europe?!?

  28. avatar
    Sławomir Bednarek

    Horse would make a cat laugh…..Obama has been good for his US , and I don,t care about it, as far as Europe is concerned – disaster….it isn,t necessary to add: total….

  29. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    A warmonger who once said that USA is the only indispensable nation in the world… If someone thinks that European and all other nations are dispensable, then how can he be good for anyone?

  30. avatar
    Γεώργιος Δανιηλίδης

    Absolutely no.He has hit EU interests in many ways.Especially guide it to unfounded emnity with the biggest european country Ruassia and created conditions to exit the biggest EU country G.Britain from the EU.

  31. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    It is only because of American ICBM’s the EU is not under Russian control so don’t knock it.

  32. avatar
    Bódis Kata

    US foreign policy has been a disaster for Europe in the last ~20 years.
    Ps: For the rest of the world, too.

  33. avatar
    Tony Muñiz

    This question is a joke right? His presidency has only been good for his bank account and his cronies. As well as Islamist getting into US government. The rest? A complete disaster from A to Z. And only a fool can be blind to it.

  34. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    YES ! The best US president ever . He is liberal ! EU right can’t receive Obama’s support.

  35. avatar
    Franck Néo Legon

    war and more war in middle east, Ukrainian coup, refugees fleeing to Europe, what a wonderfull presidency ! a Nobel peace prize my dear …

  36. avatar
    Ricardo Nuno

    His Admin start a war in Europe (Ukraine) against Russia and its consequences are still unpredictable. Basically his stategy is to spark conflicts among European nations and he’s succeding.

  37. avatar
    Joao Antonio Camoes

    No. It was a (very) good administration for US, a poor one for Asia/Pacific and a bad one for Europe and M East.

  38. avatar
    Richard Osborne

    Interesting…his actions have managed to take terrorism from a small and centralised location and spread it all over the world….so I’d say no. I could be wrong of course…why don’t we go ask some of the people in Paris, or Nice, or Tunisia, or Berlin, or Copenhagen, or Stuttgart, or Hamburg, or Stockholm.

  39. avatar
    Manuel Alegria

    American Presidency is never good for Europe…
    they are only good for Israel and multinational corps

  40. avatar
    Natasha Pikoul

    He’s been a huge disappointment. I believe initially he had good intentions, but has let himself become a puppet to the war hawks – both republicans and democrats (Hillary, McCain etc).

  41. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    Chi finanzia una elezione ? Segui chi finanzia e vedi di comanda .

    who finances an election? Follow those who finance and see who’s boss.

  42. avatar
    Sarah EsEs

    No. europe should do Sthing to be really well protected and it z not america who will do this. Hé créâtes war around us and All over over thé world. Clinton or trump it Will be worser.

  43. avatar
    Avelino Santos

    Who cares…he´s not the president of Europe…We have to see our problems and, try to solve them…how do you still get to ask a question of these!!!!

  44. avatar
    Yannick Cornet

    Insofar as we did not have to worry too much about irrational and warmonging behaviour from our old ally, it was a real blessing! As a plus he makes inspiring speeches, while I can’t really think of anyone in the EU delivering that lately.

  45. avatar
    Carmelo A. Costanza

    It’s apparent that President Obama was pro Europe and European Union. He is a liberal socialist leaning advocate which parallels with the beliefs of the EU. He recognized the importance of the experiment of a political, social and economic integrated Europe.

  46. avatar
    Fernando Nabais

    Obama, can you spend 8 years doing crap? He started the war in Syria, caused chaos in Lybia and so on. That was american style. But on the other hand, doubled the domestic debt. That is the European style. He was the worst of each style.

  47. avatar
    José Luis Quiroz

    Fuck O(sa)bama! :)

    Just to you understand how Obama is so bad as president. When he leaves goes Trump.

    He was the suppose “change” but what he did? Destroy the avanced country in Africa, continue with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, last but no for lest now bomb Syria, Yemen. The last one going trow a difficult humanitarian situation thanx to Arab Saudi.
    All that without speaking of Israel and the military aids

  48. avatar
    Sadık Bektaş

    Well, the rise of terrorism, alone in 2016, approximantely 21,231 bomb have been dropped in some countries, and so on. I do not think it was a successful president. Hope so, Trump is not going to do the same.

    • avatar
      David Fuzzey

      puppet for islam more like

    • avatar
      Virag Gulyas

      oh boy. you did not just say, did you? :-D

  49. avatar
    Jose Marcal

    A problem. Arab spring, created a two chaotic fronts in the borders of Europe (Ukraine and North Africa), and leaves without a solution…

    • avatar
      Andrius Zalitis

      Um..wait..Obama created the Ukraine crisis?

    • avatar
      Jose Marcal

      Of course not. Nor the arab spring. “the people” did it.

    • avatar
      Andrius Zalitis

      I find it astonishing how “The people” in the U.S.A. have no understanding of politics and the concept of power division, raising the post of the president to an omnipotent level, somehow believing that a single person can start or end worldwide issues.

  50. avatar
    Natasha Pikoul

    It’s interesting to compare how Americans are concentrating on his so called “class” on fb, while Europeans judge the actual actions. To sum it up – he was a person of great wit and very poor judgement.

  51. avatar
    Franck Néo Legon

    8 years of wars for profit on our borders resulting on major migration crisis, coups, putschs, in Middle East and central Europe, and so on, as usual, Obama’s presidency is just the same as Bush presidency, a disaster for the world in order to have the “deep state” few ultra-wealthy richer and the world domination monopoly for their military-industrial complex. What else ?

  52. avatar
    Helena Corte-Real

    Are you joking? US is invading Europe…Are we supposed to thank him? Which european country has Russia being agressive to? Am I missing something here? Bah…! Leave our children out of this, yankees! Pick up your “toys” and GO HOME! Murderers!!!

  53. avatar
    Manuel Alegria

    american presidency are never good for EU… probably now EU can get united and, face USA for good…

  54. avatar
    Magaly Morales

    No. We are paying for American acid debt. Ukraine have lost territory, Georgia too, and we have more than 2,5 millions of refugees in Europe. neither America nor its presidents are good for Europe.

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