In November of 2008, at the peak of Obama-mania in the United States and across the World, some claimed that the election of the first African-American president in the history of the U.S. signaled a new beginning of the 21st century.
Those holding this view on Wednesday could have argued that his re-election proves their thesis: Obama is far from being considered "an accident of history." He proved that he is not perfect, and not clean of mistakes. The Noble Prize, which was granted to him before he even warmed his seat at the White House, was a bad joke. But enter his second term, and with it, a chance for desired corrections.
On Wednesday, the vast majority of the so-called "world" was relieved. A Pew Research Center poll conducted in 20 countries showed that most of the surveyed wanted Obama to stay at the White House. A Gallup Poll said citizens of 31 out of 32 surveyed countries favored Obama over his rival (81% vs. 19%). A similar picture was described by a BBC poll: 12 out of 20 surveyed states preferred Obama (50% vs. 21%).
The globe, so it seems, is colored in Democratic-blue. It has only two Republican-red spots: One of them is Israel; the other… Pakistan.
Two red spots in a sea of blue. Bright blue, more or less, stretching from Germany and Denmark, Finland and Ireland, on to Brazil and Canada, Colombia and Indonesia, Cameroon and Nigeria.
In some cases, the blue color is so bright that "the leader of the free world" is more popular than the leaders of the surveyed state. In Germany, for example, Obama received 87% support (compared to 77% for Chancellor Angela Merkel), 86% in France (compared to 43% for President Francois Hollande), 80% in Britain (37% support Prime Minister David Cameron) and 61% in Spain (30% support for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy).
The world seeks to forget the era of George W. Bush, which divided the global map into good and bad, "those with us" and "those against us;" the difficult conflicts relating to the war on terrorism; the undermining of the concept of multilateralism; the disregard of the United Nations and other international institutions; the attempt to divide Europe over the war in Iraq; and the controversy surrounding global warming.
Listening to Mitt Romney, the world heard the voice of Ronald Reagan, and also, that of George W. Bush. This voice was heard when Romney promised to restore America's past superpower glory; when he labeled Russia as the "great Satan" and placed China on the axis of evil; and mostly when he defined the UN as an "extraordinary failure" and when he let it be understood that he intends to solve the problems of the Muslim world by the use of force.
The world listened, absorbed the information, and requested: Four more years for Obama. But it did so with reservations. Before being re-elected, the world waved Obama with a yellow warning card. Pew's survey found that since 2008, support of Obama's foreign policy has reduced by 15% in Europe, by 19% in the Muslim world, by 18% in Russia and by 30% in China. The 2008 messiah was revealed as merely a human politician.
"Yes we can?" Not always, as it turns out.
Europeans found out that Obama could care less about them and that he is not always willing to back their agenda; Africans found that he is not the president of their continent, in which he set foot only once; Pakistanis were faced with a determined John Rambo who is preoccupied with launching drone attacks and surgical strikes; and as for the Palestinians, Obama – no less than Romney – was running for the governance of Israel and not for the leadership of the free world.
The world desires a strong America. It wants the U.S. to take control of the financial crisis; it wants it to fight terror; to advance human rights. But it doesn't want it to act alone, bypassing international relations; and it doesn't want the U.S. to abandon the Palestinian issue.
The global disillusionment with Obama is based on policies in which he is perceived as having adopted the Republican agenda, as if wearing a Bush mask. Only 5 of the 21 Pew surveyed states believe he was fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this issue, his credibility was lower than 30%.
If there is one foreign policy failure during Obama's first term that commentators like to repeat over and over, it would be the conflict in the Middle East; if there exists an issue that all eyes are still gazing at with great hope – it would be the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As far as the world is concerned, Obama's victory will not be complete if this issue is not promoted. Only then will it be possible to argue that the 21st century indeed began.
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