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GOP House Takeover Has Some In Europe Worried

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Philip Reeves has that story from London.

PHILIP REEVES: President Barack Obama's taken quite a battering at home. Yet, outside the United States he still has plenty of fans. Quentin Peel, international affairs editor of the Financial Times, says a lot of them are in Europe.

QUENTIN PEEL: If you look at the opinion polls, he's still enormously popular in Europe. I mean, I think that he was at 82 percent popularity rating in the trans-Atlantic trans-poll, dropped to 79 percent in the last one.

REEVES: Although Europeans still, broadly speaking, love President Obama, Peel says that Obama does not appear to love them.

PEEL: There is a feeling that he does slightly take Europe for granted and actually is fundamentally perhaps not terribly interested in Europe.

REEVES: Bruno Tertrais is a senior fellow with the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.

BRUNO TERTRAIS: It's possible that there will be more pressure for a tougher line, vis-a-vis Iran, for an increased support for Israel, and even less prospects for ratifying disarmament treaties.

REEVES: The Obama administration wants the U.S. Senate to ratify this during the so- called lame duck session this year. It's far from certain the Republicans will play ball. Quentin Peel says the treaty is an important part of Mr. Obama's overall effort to reset relations with Moscow and is good for everyone.

PEEL: I mean, the irony is that both sides desperately want to get rid of an awful lot of redundant missiles that cost money to keep hanging around that are of absolutely no purpose in this day and age. If they become an issue in the Congress in a way of trying to embarrass the president by blocking it, then, dear old American domestic policy is undermining perfectly sensible foreign policy.

REEVES: Some Republicans oppose disarmament measures because they believe these will restrict the U.S.'s anti-missile deployments. Bruno Tertrais believes the Senate will ratify the new START treaty, but he expects that to be Obama's last move on the disarmament front, at least for this term.

TERTRAIS: I think that will be the end of this push for disarmament - for nuclear disarmament by the U.S. administration.

REEVES: Some analysts here expect President Obama now to concentrate in particular on Iran. Among them, Anthony Dworkin, a senior policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

ANTHONY DWORKIN: He will be trying hard to achieve something there, not only because he wants to have a legacy, but also because he sees this as a big and important priority for America. But there's no guarantee that he will be able to get very far.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves
Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.