I sat down on a bench in a neighborhood park today with my friend Rachael. We ate icecreams watching an overwhelming crowd of infants and children enjoying the first warm days of spring. A group of rowdy 7 years old boys were fighting each other with waterguns. One of them, smaller but definitely more agile, climbed up to the top of the spiderweb with a giant neon orange gun with which he sprinkled water in the eyes of his assailliants. “That’s Iran”, I told Rachael. “and the fat kid with the red hoodie is the US, trying to catch him by the seams of his tshirt, but it’s always two steps behind.” The kid in the red hoodie was indeed panting and sweating, trying to recharge his gun to fire back, but failed to do it fast enough. As Iran declared victory on top of the spiderweb, a small boy wiped his sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his blue tshirt and sighed away his sidebangs. “That’s the UK”, said Rachael. “Kicking pebbles out of frustration.”

The Leader and The Attention Whore

The Leader and The Attention Whore

Rolling on the recent G20 summit’s wave, Barack Obama settled the score with the most prominent European leaders on topics pertaining to american foreign policy, the biggest obstacle to smooth, fluid and satisfying transatlantic relations. First stop on the Obamatrain was Russia, where Dmitry Medvedev, the long forgotten Russian president, received the gift of change by being told that the former enemies both had to divide their weapons of mass destruction by three, focusing on what Obama called “loose nukes” – missiles and other massively dangerous weapons retrieved from enemies and terrorists. This should not satisfy Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is probably using said stockpile to hunt bears in Siberia.

A treaty already signed by Russia, Britain and France, prohibiting nuclear bomb trials, has been routinely avoided by both Clinton and Bush – but the climate is about to change as Obama promised he would pressure the Congress to approve of this treaty. Of the word’s 24,000 estimated nuclear weapons, the US and Russia are sharing the lion’s 99% (10,000 for the United States and 13,000 for Russia), which prompted the new President to lay down a list of three fundamental goals in order to achieve a decent peace-keeping reputation: 1. “ensuring the security of existing nuclear weapons”, as in, keeping track on their location, their owners, and reducing to complete nihilism the situations in which they might be called to use. 2. “reducing and eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons”: this includes letting Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad know he’s very likely to be voted off the island if he doesn’t get on the program.  Side participants such as India are not yet mentioned. 3. “preventing the spread of nuclear material to new countries”. For once, this list  gets rid of the blatant and obnoxious hypocrisy of the previous non-proliferation treaties that called for a dire restrictions on the acquisition of new weapons, without having any plans to suppress or throw away the existing ones. The big toys were still kept within arms reach of any Western president, but any other leader willing to place their greedy hands on a red button was greeted with the nose of a rifle. At least this time, balance and fairness prevails. A spring cleaning is in the air?

On his way to France, towering over Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama reiterated his need for european back-up in Afghanistan. About to ship a thousand more soldiers up until this summer, he is expecting Europe to back up this contingent with 3,000 more British and French troops.  He believes that the EU should “share the burden” of the war on terrorism: “I’ve come to Europe this week to renew our partnership … America is changing but it cannot be America alone that changes”, adding that he believes Al-Quaeda is more of a threat to european countries than it is to the United States right now. John Hutton, the defence secretary, believes that France’s very recent entry into NATO could help the European Union make bigger of a move towards the United States in terms of defense against aggression and common development of security measures against international terrorism. “The president is making the choices clear to Europe on Afghanistan. This is a moment of decision for Europe, and it should support the American strategy. There are very few places now to go. He is going to challenge Europe a lot. He is going to confront the anti-Americanism that is still very strong in some parts of Europe. I think he has taken away all the excuses that some could hide behind.”

Guess the kid in the red hoodie is ready to start sharing the playground now. Now if he could lay down the waterguns, that would be a definitive improvement.