Could an Obama Win Restore America’s Global Image?
Obama Candidacy Helps Revive America’s Sagging Image Abroad
By LARA SETRAKIAN
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 28, 2008 —
If the world could vote, Barack Obama would win by a landslide.
He’d take 78 percent of the vote in France, 72 percent in Germany, 70 percent in Canada and 61 percent in Japan, according to global newspaper polls and Harris Interactive, a market research firm in Rochester, N.Y.
Beneath those numbers, running parallel to Obama-mania, is a shifting global view of the United States.
One week before Election Day, the world is revising its opinion of America. After a drop of confidence in the United States, presidential candidate Barack Obama has revived the U.S. brand, exporting a vision of American renewal to a world watching the election with unprecedented interest.
“He’s just stirred the imagination of ordinary people,” said Daniel Kinnear, a veteran diplomat based in South Africa. “For a country like South Africa that is coming out of a legacy of apartheid and is still dealing with its legacy, Obama remains a sign of hope. There’s an incredible romanticism of having a black American on the forefront of change in the United States.”
“If Obama does win, this could also be the moment when the world stops hating America,” Vir Sanghvi, an Indian columnist, wrote in the Hindustan Times. “The world will feel engaged by an Obama presidency. By electing Obama they have the chance to earn … goodwill, to transform their country’s image, and to finally stem the rising tide of global anti-Americanism.”
Since President Bush took office in 2000, approval of the United States has dropped, along with its soft power — indirect influence by which the United States can advance its policy goals without the use of force or coercion.
Through wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the ineffable war on terror, America’s battle tactics have cut into its moral standing abroad.
Europe experienced the rise of “friendly fire anti-Americanism” when protests against America rocked longstanding U.S. allies such as France, Spain and Germany, where roughly one in three people now hold a favorable view of the United States — significantly fewer since the war in Iraq.
In this year’s Pew Global Attitudes poll, the United Kingdom was the only European country surveyed in which a majority of people, 53 percent, expressed a positive view of the United States.
Flashback: “Eventually, we will all hate Obama too; What makes America such an indispensable power is precisely what makes anti-Americanism inevitable.”