Obama has landed in Europe for the first time and as expected, the leaders are falling over themselves to be photographed with him and he must of thought so far so good. Listening to him speak off the cuff answering questions and not speaking from a prepared script has been enlightening, he tends to waffle and erm and err quite a lot which i wasn't expecting but that could be nerves, he did face some awkward questions. Particular favourite was the question from Nick Robinson of the BBC who told him that Gordon Brown placed the cause of the recession firmly on America's shoulders and asked him if he agreed. He wasn't expecting that and flapped around uncomfortably for a few minutes looking for a political answer which was that 'now was a time to look forward for a solution and not backwards at apportioning blame.'
Apart from that Obama was well received by the Europeans and even the Presidential style speech in Strasbourg began well. He received applause for his plans to eliminate nuclear weapons, close the Guantanamo Bay prison and tackle global warming. Where it all went quiet was when he mentioned Afghanistan and how it was not Americas fight alone and Europe should do more. The crowd of young Germans and French stayed silent as Obama went on to explain that winning the battle in Afghanistan was important for all our securities. The stony silence should send out a very important message to Obama, to us, Afghanistan IS very much America's war and a war that was a central plank in George Bush's disasterous War on Terror.
That Obama, who's rise to power was firmly on the back of his opposition to the Iraq War, is keen to continue the Bush foreign policy in Afghanistan and is happy to expand it with extra troops and raids into the Pakistan border areas, risks poisoning his presidency before it gets into its stride.
Afghanistan was, and remains, aggression against a foreign state intended to punish it for refusing to hand over the man behind the Twin Towers attack. It may have been turned into a humanitarian crusade afterwards but at the time America wanted to lash out at someone and the Taliban, who they were on friendly terms with previously, were it.
Eight years on and Bin Laden has managed to evade the full might of America and the few NATO allies on-board, the Taliban are resurgent and Pakistan has been dragged into the mix. As for the humanitarian angle, the weak Afghan Government are considering bringing in a law that rules women cannot leave their house without their husbands permission, can only seek education or visit the doctor if their husband allows it and wives are forbidden from refusing their husbands sex.
President Obama should take note from recent history and a stark example of how his Presidency risks being poisoned by his decision making in Afghanistan by another disastrous American foreign policy, Vietnam.
He may get support from his fellow leaders and a few extra troops from those wanting to pal up to the new President but the crowds silence said everything about how Obama continuing and escalating Americas war in Afghanistan is thought of outside of political circles and his actions threatens Afghanistan becoming Obama's War.