What Obama’s election means abroad
Barack Obama’s victory was met with euphoria in many nations by those who see him as restoring their faith in American ideals.
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“People are happy because he is of our color,” says Tariq Bashir Mohamed Kheir, a Sudanese engineer, sitting down to an early morning cup of tea in Khartoum, Sudan. “It will break the view of Americans.... They see blacks as inferior to whites….”Skip to next paragraph
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Laurent Joffrin, editor of the French daily newspaper Libération, wrote in his Wednesday column, “Obama’s story shows that identity is not a fact of nature that locks men up inside their births, but [is shaped] by a conscious adherence to democratic principles.... Does that seem hypothetical or abstract? Maybe. But for an hour, a day, let’s believe in it. For the first time in a long time, the New World deserves its name.”
End of multilateralism
In Beijing, Chinese leaders hope that Obama “will fundamentally shift from [President George] Bush’s unilateralism to multilateralism and give serious concern to cooperation with Europe, China, and Japan,” says Yan Xuetong, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Over the past eight years, he added, America has come to be seen abroad as “selfish, violent, and applying double standards. Obama can redeem America’s international image.”
For Russia, the election comes after several years of deteriorating relations rooted in differences over the invasion of Iraq, NATO’s expansion, and, more recently, in the August war between Russian and Georgia. But Elina Kirichenko, head of North American studies at the official Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow, says that Obama’s election is “a very important signal to the world. Americans are saying they want changes. The fact that Obama is young, and is not a child of the cold war, is very hopeful. During the campaign he seemed much more flexible than McCain and spoke more about common interests of the world’s peoples.”
In New Delhi, Teerna Khurana, a strategic consultant, lists all the ways that Obama could be a bad choice for India. He might reconsider Bush’s recently concluded deal to sell nuclear technology to India. Obama has also stated his desire to keep more jobs in the US, potentially undercutting India’s greatest economic success story – outsourcing. And his desire to find a solution to regional insecurity in Pakistan and Afghanistan could resurrect the issue of Kashmir.
Yet Ms. Khurana is overjoyed at Obama’s election. “It’s good for America, it’s good for the world,” she says, before adding, “the only question is if it’s good for India.”