Charles Lane writes well of European criticism toward Obama in the wake of Bin Ladin's death in today's WaPo:
By ordering a covert raid on Pakistan that resulted in Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of Navy SEALs, Obama has earned the kind of condemnation Europe's cognoscenti once reserved for his predecessor, George W. Bush.
And nowhere is the chorus more moralistic than in Germany, where former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a Social Democrat, has pronounced the action "clearly a violation of international law." The quality press is full of carping and quibbling. Handelsblatt called the raid "an act that violates both the international prohibition of force and humanitarian law." Der Spiegel, under the headline "Justice, American Style," reports an expert's view that it's "questionable whether the USA can still claim to be engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaida." Elsewhere in the same journal, a reporter calls NewYork celebrations of bin Laden's death "reminiscent of Muslims celebrating in the Gaza Strip after the 9/11 attacks."
Lane comes close to identifying the cultural rift by noting:
It never occurs to [German critics] that Americans might not be celebrating bin Laden's death as such but the suddenly real chance that a long and costly struggle could end -- and end in victory, no less.
While some Americans reveled in the death itself, it is unmistakable that Bin Laden was the most symbolic personification of Islamic terrorism in the minds of most Americans. He was murderous, unrepentant and irritatingly beyond our ability to exterminate. His defeat, therefore, provides hope (as Obama smiles) to Americans that the greater evil can be overcome in the same manner as its emissary.
Europe will always stew in its taciturn brooding when America succeeds where they could not, and Obama was always wrongly confident that his post-American persona would alter this condition. Lane commends Obama's leadership and suggests that "he, like his predecessor, should wear [European scorn] as a badge of honor." This will not happen, not only because Obama is incapable of expressing any commonality with Bush, but because Obama likely sympathizes with his European critics.