While Obama has spent the last days receiving and giving praises during his three-day state visit to the United kingdom, he will tomorrow fly to Deauville in France, accompanied by British Prime Minister David Cameron, where both leaders will attend the G8 summit.
Interestingly, both the Ireland and UK visits of the US President have been criticised for being a little too photo-op orientated, with Obama photographed drinking a pint of Guinness in a pub in the small village of Moneygall and then teaming up with Cameron to play table tennis against a group of south London students before flipping burgers in the back garden of Downing Street.
The welcome in the French city of Deauville however risks being a little less warm as anti G8 protestors have already started demonstrations against the international summit where Obama is expected to take part in bilateral talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Why are they protesting?
According to the organisers of past and present G8 protests, it seems that the main issues provoking their anger revolve around capitalism and what they see as the imposed imperialism of western liberal democracies on weaker states. The movement is widely understood to be anti-globalisation.
Most anti-G8 protesters are against the military interventions that some of the G8 countries "impose on other weaker nations that have been labelled 'rogue'" they say. Their manifesto explains that "The reality is even after the apparent death of Osama Bin Laden, thousands upon thousands of ordinary people are killed and maimed in the pursuit of a neoliberal world that suits the rulers of the G8 nations and those that finance them."
With the Nato-led operation speeding up it bombardments campaign on the Libyan city of Tripoli, in an attempt to force Gaddafi out of power, and the intention of the US and EU countries to be fully involved in the restructuration of Middle East countries, they will certainly have plenty to complain about.
Denouncing the lack of legitimacy of the summit they oppose the idea of creating a "'rich club' of nations with China or India is nonsensical to put it mildly," before adding that they "believe the G8 is in its dying years and we hope that this will be the last ever gathering of the G8."
They insist the war on Libya was essentially conceived and led by the G8 countries, omitting that China and Russia although they did not veto the UN proposition do not support it either. Another of their grievances concerns the global fiscal policies of bailout and austerity that were agreed in London two years ago during the previous G8.
In a video promoting the protests John Hilary, the Executive director for War on Want, a London based organisation that "fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation.", explains that the G8 is a body of military imperialism, a body that decides who are the rogue states, who to marginalise in global politics, and ultimately who to declare war on. "The G20 is the body that pushes neo-liberal policies under the guise of 'development' and 'austerity'. It is a grotesque mirror that is reflecting north and south in the world at present," he says.
They also accuse the West of exploiting the global south by burdening it with debts as it is sold neoliberal packages under the cover of development. Other areas of protests include immigration, nuclear choices, energy and environmental problems.
Protesters did not wait for the summit to begin to start voicing their disgust at the event as around ten thousand demonstrators marched through Le Havre, a neighbouring city of Deauville, last Sunday. Despite a few clashes between the police, anarchists and anti-globalisation supporters, the protest was mostly peaceful and activists from an eclectic mix of labour unions, leftist political parties, environmentalist and women's rights groups participated in the march. Protesters chose to concentrate on the use of the slogan "G8 Degage" which can be translated into "G8 go away". In a rather funny twist this slogan was first used as rallying cry for the revolution that led to the overthrow of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali.
After all, maybe Obama was right to take full advantage of his special relationship with the U.K as French and international activists, with many people from the U.K., Germany and Belgium expected to join the protests. It seems that no matter how the U.S. leader tries to put his charm and relaxed attitude forward in Deauville, it will certainly not be enough to win the anti-globalisation crowd over.