Will Obama mend US International Image?


In what has been an extremely difficult few years in terms of foreign relations, many countries are looking at new United States President-elect Barack Obama as a means of reforming the much destroyed United States image.

While the Obama’s ancestral ties gave reason for high spirits in Kenya, it appears that the enthusiasm has spread far beyond the pride of those with African heritage.

“I was extremely surprised at the level of international interest in this election,” said Dr. Frederick Douglas Opie, Marist history professor and published author. “It was amazing to see how closely people were following it.”

It seems one of the largest breakthrough’s abroad could concern relations in Russia. According to CNN.com, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has retracted his statement of placing short-range ballistic missiles near its border to defend itself from US missiles. The President also made suggestion of forming a joint-missile system.

This new direction is monumental considering the uneasy relations between the two countries, which has been deeply rooted since the time of the cold war. According to BBCnews.com Medvedev stated that Russia has “pinned such hopes” of gaining “mutual trust” on the “arrival of the new US administration.”

The North Korea Times also made a statement welcoming “the launching of the Obama era” and had hopes of ending hostility between the two nations. The article stated that Obama had made claim for a future meeting with leader Kim Jong-il.

While excitement of the new President-elect has so far proved positive for US image some believe the hype have set expectations too high. The New York Times quoted Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador saying the high hopes would eventually lead to some type of disappointment.

“All I have to say is God help him for his expectations,” said Opie while laughing aloud. “But he does seem to have a very sober interpretation; he realizes he can’t do everything, I think he will do fine”

For European countries, the response to Obama’s election did not concentrate on US relations but rather has sparked a ripple of self reflection. The New York Times quoted Dominique Moïsi, a French political analyst saying the United States has “regained the torch of a moral revolution” and discussed realization in their own countries delay in minority advancement. The Times also noted France’s defense minister, Hervé Morin, Spoke of Obama’s success as a “a lesson” for a France.

“Obama is a visionary,” said Opie. “Seeing him come this far allows others to feel like ‘we have a chance.’”

While Italy shared similar feelings of Hope, Britain seemed more skeptical. The London Times quoted Trevor Phillips, the black chairman of the independent Equality and Human Rights Commission, he said:

“If Barack Obama had lived here, I would be very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him would have been able to break through the institutional stranglehold that there is on power.”

According to The New York Times, Ashok Viswanathan, assistant director of Operation Black Vote (a group which encourages involvement of f minorities in politics) spoke more optimistically. Vswanthan predicted that Britain would see a minority Prime Minister in the next 30 years and a party leader in the next 15.

“If someone said two years ago that there would be a black president, most people would have laughed that person out of town,” said Viswanathan. “The very nature of aspiration is when barriers are broken; whether in flying to the moon or being the first black person around a cabinet table — it’s something that nobody believes will happen.”

Image via Getty Images


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