Obama Unlikely to Find a Quick Fix for U.S. Global Image (by Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research)

Het verbeteren van Amerika’s slechte imago in de wereld zal alleen kunnen gebeuren door Obama’s als positief beoordeeld handelen. [En het is m.i. zeer de vraag of zijn nieuwe strategie voor Afghanistan & Pakistan (AfPak) en Midden-Oosten beleid daaraan zullen bijdragen].

As Barack Obama travels through Europe on his first overseas trip as president, keep your expectations modest that this is the beginning of a major revival of America’s global image. No question that Barack Obama has a great personal following around the world, especially in comparison with President Bush. But to restore the global image of the nation he now leads, the new president must overcome a number of fundamental criticisms. And issues arising from the global economic crisis and other world problems on Obama’s agenda seem likely to resonate with key criticisms about America’s leadership in the Bush years.

Judging from Pew Research’s interviews with 177,000 people in 55 nations between 2002 and 2008, topping the list of carryover complaints is the charge that America too often acts unilaterally: that it doesn’t take into account the interests of other nations in formulating policy. Closely linked to this critique is the view that the United States relies too much on military force to deal with international conflicts.

Another consistent and prevalent criticism has been that the U.S. does too little to address world problems, and what it does do has widened the global gulf between rich and poor. On matters ranging from promotion of democracy to globalization to international security, the rest of the world became openly skeptical of America’s word and intentions over most of this decade.

Although a good deal of this global hardening of attitudes was aimed directly at President Bush and his policies, the animus amounted to something larger than a thumbs down on the-then-occupant of the White House. Simply put, much of the world came to fear and resent the unrivaled power of that worrisome colossus, the United States…

When asked about improving the image of America at his press conference last week, the president said that he had not looked at recent polling. In fact, not much polling has been done, as more time is needed for people around the world to have a sense of Obama the president, as opposed to Obama the candidate.

But from this perspective, while it seems likely that other nations will, in general, react favorably to Obama’s style and more conciliatory approach compared with President Bush, that will only go so far and so long in changing minds about what America stands for and its global leadership. In the end, actions — and their consequences — will resonate more widely and strongly than words.

Obama Unlikely to Find a Quick Fix for U.S. Global Image (by Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center)

‘Aanpak Afghanistan moet ouderwets vastberaden zijn’ (Commentaar de Volkskrant)

Is George Mitchell wel de verhoopte ‘evenwichtige’ mediator voor het Midden-Oosten?


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