I would think that his first year in office has been a chastening one for Barack Obama, who has had to learn the limits of the politics of personality — specifically the limits of his personality to change the world.
Lesson No. 1,043 comes today courtesy of the Dutch government, which is pulling its forces out of Afghanistan despite Obama’s pleas that they stay. As the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, observed: “When President Bush asked us to extend our activities we said yes and when President Obama, who has a lot of support in the Netherlands, made such a request, we say no.”
I am sure that Obama still remains popular in the Netherlands — as he does in many other places around the world. But once again, his personal popularity is not translating into an ability to carry out his agenda.