Tag Archives: Pipa

No Courtesy Farts: Obama Effect Gives US Diplomatic Face-lift

Barack Obama silhouette isolated on a white Had enough of the Tea Party tirades against Barack Obama?  For some perspective, take a look at what the rest of the world thinks about the United States since Obama took office:

“People around the world today view the United States more positively than at any time since the second Iraq war,” says international polling firm GlobeScan’s chair Doug Miller, after a study conducted in partnership with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland.  The BBC notes that there can be little confusion as to the cause for this surge in popularity as the uptick in approval ratings coincided (roughly) with Barack Obama becoming president.  The improvement has been drastic and unquestionable: “America’s influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative,” (Click here for a look at the graph) says the BBC of the results of the survey of 30,000 people in 28 countries.

There are of course going to be the isolationist, deadbeat, know-nothing boobs who shrug at this and claim that world opinion and active diplomacy do not matter.  To a chump of this breed, “us and them” thinking dominates and the outside world is willed away.  Whether they are attention whores waving their home-made signs of xenophobic desperation at anti-immigration rallies or whether they indulge in Rush/Beck/Hannity bulimia – force feeding themselves with ultra-right propaganda and then projectile vomiting, booty grazing style, across their sturdy white picket fences – the viability of their shortsighted thinking is quickly fading.

“They’ll just say that this is further proof that Obama is selling America to his wicked, socialist brethren in the empire of Europe,” said a commenter on the Rachel Maddow Blog.  These antediluvian, paranoid wrecks are as quick to fire off the “s” word as a high school sophomore is to boyfriend drop in every hallway conversation.  Newsflash: Working for better quality of life at home and reaching out diplomatically abroad is not socialism.  It is common sense.

“The idea that a better reputation abroad is meaningless uplift is foolish. It helps the US leverage its power to greater ends. The more popular the US is, the likelier it is to have a positive impact on other countries’ leaders. ” (Andrews Sullivan, The Atlantic)

Sullivan makes the point that the American face-lift began in 2007 , “when Cheneyism was in retreat, when Rice and Gates were beginning to reorient the US away from militarist adventurism, when the surge was beginning to tamp down violence in Iraq, and when the Supreme Court had begun to push back on the presidential power to torture at will. But it’s also worth noting that the gain in respect endures and strengthens as Obama holds office, at a time when every other country’s reputation is declining.”

No courtesy fart was needed after the last administration’s train wreck of a foreign policy.  We needed change.  The massive work of diplomatic reparation was before us.  And in place of cowboyish black and white rhetoric came a more nuanced approach to international collaboration:

“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.  The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history. … Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. … As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. … America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. … To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”   – President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address.

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Bjorn Karlman