Opinion

The Great Debate

Obama in the footsteps of George W. Bush

By Bernd Debusmann
October 15, 2009

Bernd Debusmann– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

Words of wisdom from an American leader: “The United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.

“If we are an arrogant nation, they’ll view us that way but if we are a humble nation, they’ll respect us.”

President Barack Obama, the newly-minted winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, speaking about U.S. engagement with the rest of the world, including anti-American leaders? No, the exhortation for superpower humbleness came from George W. Bush when he was running for president in 2000.

Whether this was campaign rhetoric or conviction will never be known but if it was the latter, it ended eight months into Bush’s first term.

The word “humble” disappeared from Washington’s political lexicon after the Sept. 11, 2001 mass murders in New York and Washington and during the rest of Bush’s eight-year presidency, the United States came to be seen, in large parts of the world, as the epitome of superpower arrogance.

“Humble” is back in fashion. Nine months into his first term, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly he was “humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me” and determined to meet the challenge of collective action. Three weeks later, he stood in the White House Rose Garden to say he was “deeply humbled” by the Nobel Committee’s decision to give him the Peace Prize.

But like his predecessor, who was resented in much of the world, Obama is running into foreign policy problems as resistant to humility and the collective action the president often conjures as they were resistant to Bush’s unilateral approach. Does Obama’s rock star-like celebrity help?

So far, not really. In Germany, for example, 93 percent of those polled in a survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project said they had confidence the U.S. president would do the right thing in world affairs. Would that translate into more German troops for the war in Afghanistan which is unpopular in Germany? Not likely.

In his speech to the United Nations, Obama pointed out that American unilateral actions had fed “an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction.” While anti-Americanism may be on the wane in many parts of the world, there is no sign of a corresponding increase of support for U.S. foreign policy on key issues.

Nor is there evidence of a wholesale decline in the tendency of a good number of U.S. political figures to assume that people from other countries think like Americans. That has been a perennial problem in America’s dealings with the world. It was the reason, for example, why the Bush administration was so surprised by the resounding 2006 electoral victory of Hamas, the Islamist group shunned as terrorists by most of the West, in Gaza.

CONTRADICTION IN TERMS?

More recently, that’s why some in Washington were taken aback by the angry reaction in Pakistan to a bill passed in Congress this month that tripled U.S. assistance over the next five years. It was meant as part of an effort to build a new relationship with Pakistan, whose cooperation Washington needs to fight Taliban and al Qaeda elements along the border with Afghanistan.

The bill contained language on conditions tied to the tripled aid that were seen by many Pakistanis as a humiliating violation of national sovereignty and an affront to dignity, an issue particularly sensitive in Pakistan, which is one of the few countries apparently immune to Obama’s charm. (The Pew survey’s favorability rating for the United States showed a drop from 19 percent in 2008 to a dismal 16 percent in 2009).

What seemed perfectly legitimate to lawmakers in Washington — no disbursement of aid unless Pakistan demonstrated a “sustained commitment” to crack down on terrorism — was seen as an insult by the Pakistanis. Which raises the question whether a humble superpower is a contradiction in terms.

Or whether humility will impress the leaders Obama has to deal with if he wants to succeed where Bush and other presidents failed – get North Korea and Iran to drop their nuclear ambitions, persuade Israel and the Palestinians to end their conflict, defang international terrorists and last but not least, achieve his dream of a nuclear-free world.

On that, he sounded a somber note when he commented on his Nobel Peace Prize: maybe not “in my lifetime.” Sobering detail: Obama is 48.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@reuters.com)

Comments
52 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The US has an image and branding dilemma. On one the hand it wants to be Saviour of sundry and all, while simultaneously vesting interests. This dualistic approach destroys credibility. On the other hand its enemies are targeting its political spearheads, which quite frankly, are soft targets on their own. Maybe the US should market its political system, with all its checks and balances, rather than the figure heads. It might also be clever to commend the image and branding of its friends and opponents in order to restore and create goodwill.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive
 

I think a better title would’ve been “Obama following in the footsteps of George Bush.”

Since he’s a mirror image in every major issue, just different rhetoric.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

It’s nice when other countries love you, but that doesn’t mean they are looking out for your interests. If the US doesn’t look out for its interests, who will? Russia? France? Germany? Yet the US is asked to consider others’ needs. Who else does this? And that make the US “arrogant”?

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive
 

Obama as a mirror image of Bush is really going way too far. There are some issues on which he hasn\’t strayed far (Afghanistan), but to say he is a mirror is just ridiculous: health care reform, active engagement with Iran and North Korea (whether successful yet or not, the attempt is there), cancellation of missile sites in Europe and an improved relationship with Russia, a more multi-national integrated approach on regional issues such as Honduras, a new attitude and approach to the UN and its potential, a better attempt at breaching partisan divides, a more engaging attitude toward politicans on the other end, a more considerate and respectful tone with the Muslim world, discarding the good vs. evil rhetoric and the guns waving democracy-spreading rodeo that Bush seemed to think the world was in. A mirror image? Ridiculous.

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive
 

Obama is a great man with a difficult job.

 

I guess the US is always thinking that getting into internal affairs of other countries is a good thing for them (the US)… So they take out presidents, put others in their place, do whatever they like and create a mass culture of worship towards their president.

 

There are no differences between Democrats and Republicans! My god! What is it going to take to convince people of that? These bastards think that THEY are going to be the supreme rulers of the New World Order. Well, they got another thing coming. Get rid of all of them.

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive
 

FYI Paul:–US only looks after it’s and Israel interests.
Obama is only a figurehead and actually the president is Hillary Rodenhurst cLinton with the side kick V.P. Rahm Emanual.
Very dangerous times await obtuse Americans–as/in Paul :^/

Posted by Les Pisrael | Report as abusive
 

Obama is a great man. He was elected president. He won the Nobel Peace prize. He should quite while he’s ahead. Soon.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive
 

The Americans continue to overestimate their power and to confuse rhetoric with reality.

There seems no measure of wisdom, or perspective, in them – only self-absorption and self-projection as if that quintessential American conceit – the power of positive thinking – will alter reality. They are children. Foolish, soft, spoiled children, with no spine to them.

They make promises of commitment to allies they will leave to twist and die in the wind. They promise miracles of transformative strategy and insight only to repeat past blunders, failing to learn the same elementary lessons again and again and again.

They are increasingly a nation divided between the very rich and everyone else, unable, even for a moment, to put aside the most parochial of self-interests for the common good.

They are indeed an example to the world – of the worst sort: Craven, feckless, shallow, without commitment or purpose, only a bit of rhetoric or the artificial emotion of a movie score.

The present administration is in a sense typical: Well intentioned, full of officially designated ‘terribly bright’ people, yet dysfunctional and ineffective, full of speeches that once seemed to hold promise and which now hold only the echoes of noble intent once envisioned already lost in failure, compromise, the resort to the resolutely ordinary, the appeal to an infinite number of self-fracturing self interests.

Principally, American culture lacks depth, substance, resolute purpose. It has offered the world the charms of its youth, its popular entertainment, it has its exceptional individuals of real merit and accomplishment – but, in the end, it means little, if anything – the briefest, the shallowest of empires, now fading.

No president, no congress, no symbol can save a people from its own failures, its own shortcomings.

Look around. Tell me what you see.

Posted by arc tenebrous | Report as abusive
 

Nobody ever said that Obama was a political messiah who would solve the issues of the world.

The problem is that this is the image that Obama presented in order to win the election. He knew that pandering to the public desires for hope and change would bring an easy election victory.

But there is a reason that politicians avoid trying to win elections through such means. Because they eventually have to live up to the image they presented to the public.

This is something Obama will learn soon enough. If he is unable to live up to the image he sold to the American public, then he will deserve the results.

The Obama administration is swiftly learning the practical reality of government. That spin must eventually give way to substance, and that many policies of the previous government were simply practical.

And even in those areas where change could occur, such as healthcare, the democrats are afraid to proceed alone. Because they either don’t have the unity, or are afraid of the political consequences of failure. Hence Obama’s insistance on bipartisanship, even with a supermajority government.

So now we see the Obama government settling comfortably in the status quo, but becoming increasingly worried as it wonderes what to do about the very idealists that Obama relied on for his election victory.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Please Yankee Go Home!!
Take of your own people and stop dreaming of empires that are fading by the minute. There is nothing exceptionalist about America, except being able to kill millions from the sky. The world survived without you for century’s and without a doubt will until time stands still. Just go home with your bases and militarist ideals and I add you hypocritical culture of individualism. The opposite doctrine is collectivism, in other words people working as a group to better society. Just go away.

 

I am an American. I was born here and raised to believe that I am among the very lucky to make that claim.
Over the course of this past decade I have lost faith in America. Not because of past mistakes and broken promises but because America spends way too much time and money trying to fix pathetic adolescent countries around this demented world without fixing our own problems here at home.
America needs to recognize that all the so called sovereign nations we have attempted to civilize will remain ungrateful no matter how much aid and protection we provide.

Posted by robert brennan | Report as abusive
 

Obama is a leader, a genuine human being and his stress on humbleness shows it all. I guess he believes in the more popular saying “With great power, comes great responsibility”. He is one politician which the world has come close to respect so far. I guess he just needs better support from the rest of the world and from his own country(I am not an American) to be able to bring peace to this world.

If word does reach him through this debate, I would just tell him this.. Peace will bring prosperity which is most sought after in these troubled times. The world doesn’t want a WAR and I don’t think the United States wants it to. There are many selfish elements working towards goals and aspirations of a few. But Obama does have a genuine concern about the masses.. I do feel it…. May be its just me!! But this man needs some trust, some co-operation from all the nations and some time.. He will bring a CHANGE which he promised in his campaign to not only the US, but the entire world.

Posted by A. Martin Francis | Report as abusive
 

It is ultra-conservative cynicism to equate Obama with the last George Bush. They represent two different views of the world, and two opposing ways of doing things. Obama genuinely seeks peace and craves discussion with the rest of the world, two things that put him in a camp opposed to that of Bush.
The Nobel Prize Committee appreciates and understands this better than commentators who so far are unable or unwilling to see this crystal clear difference between the two men and the two administrations. And that is why the Committee took the unprecedented but commendable step to encourage him, President Obama, with this year’s award.
Obama is bound to continue with his work of peace. He has to live out and imbue his Presidency with his core values of tolerance and the uncommon ability to appreciate the other person’s viewpoints, friendly or not.
Just as in the election, Obama will surprise his critics in the end.

Posted by Iboro Otongaran | Report as abusive
 

Equating Obama’s agenda to W’s is unfair. It’s only in foreign affairs and a craven submission to corporate interests that they’re identical.

Posted by Lloyd | Report as abusive
 

Ok, maybe Obama isn’t an EXACT replica of Bush, but here’s a list of things he has the exact same stance as Bush.

Taxation
Border Security
War in Iraq 2008 and beyond
War in Afghanistan
Threatening Iran
Lack of demanding transparency in the Federal Reserve
Bailing out corporate America
War on Drugs
Torture abroad, aka extraordinary rendition
Support of dictatorships like those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt
Support of the Patriot Act
Growing the national debt
Weakening of the dollar
Expanding the federal government, especially in the federal budget

Well those are the obvious ones off the top of my head, I’m sure I missed a few.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Scanning some of the posts on this blog has reminded me with astounding potency why I never, under any circumstance, read posts on blogs: Tenebrous, with his whining, coffee shop self-righteousness. The US has made mistakes. Lots of them, in fact. It is also worth noting that the US tries to help more than any other nation. Major disasters happen and I can guarantee you that nine times out of ten the majority of the aid flooding into the region is coming from the US. So we can fuss that the United States is arrogant. So is every one else. The US population, on the whole, is shallow. So are the citizens of EVERY OTHER nation as a majority.

Pakistanis can gripe that they are insulted by the strings attached to the US tripling it’s aid to Pakistan… but they are not required to accept the aid. Diplomacy itself is a “strings-attached” game. To get, you must give.

And as far as “losing faith in America”, America is not a person. It is not a being. It is a… wait for it… collective. A group of people that are invariably connected to the people of the rest of the world. So yes, we work on problems with other nations and not just our own. Isolationism is not practical or realistic.

But please, I beg of all the angsty posters, do not pose as the righteous individual critical of the evil masses. You are the same as the rest whether you are a citizen of the US or any other country. But please, if you are aware of a country where everyone does the right thing, never wrongs another and maintains a culture full of depth… point it out on the map for me. Please.

Posted by Michael DeFord | Report as abusive
 

Sooner than later, Obama will have to choose between being liked, and between actually doing something for the US national interest, and for peace, democracy and human rights that mostly coincide with that interest.
Let’s face reality: Sadly, the US is the main thing that stands between the world and total chaos. Being the policeman of the world is a nasty job, and people don’t always like the police, which sometimes makes mistakes, but still – it does a necessary job.

BTW, that Nobel Peace prize thing is turning out to be a political trick imposed on the committee by its head, the former Norwegian prime minister – Not the best day for the image of the Nobel Peace prize, or for the image of Norway…

Posted by yr | Report as abusive
 

I also am an American who wants to believe in the hope of peace. However, the comments above that speak to Obama’s leadership are simply premature. Further, I have grave reservations about someone who speaks quite often about humility. Humility requires the example of action.

Obama may prove to be a quality leader but he has not achieved it yet. The press here and around the world have coronated him, possibly even annointed him, and I doubt he will ever be able to live up to the expectations that are being placed on him. Only a very few people really know who Obama is at this point. Hopefully those who believe he is great are correct.

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive
 

I envy my Dad. He passed away in 2008. He is truly at peace.

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive
 

As I have said before, “Orwell was a prophet” and as Obama marches us all down the road to a One World Government, I can only wonder in amazement, when I see the sheep that worship him as if Messiah.
Hitler was featured on Time magazine as Man of the Year. Those who survive Obama’s push for World War Three and fall for the Double-Speak of this “Man-of-Peace” will look back in the same manner that those who survived Nazi Germany looked back and wondered how they could have been so foolish.
No MAN is a God and those who would volunteer to act as one tend to be the very type that prove unworthy of such a responsibility.

 

Obama’s popularity around the world will simply make it easier for the U.S. government to paint resistance to Obama inside the United States and outside as vile extremists. Pakistanis, Iranians, far-left progressives, libertarians, pacifists….we will all be cast as villains now.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive
 

Let us see, Bush started 2 wars, never found WMDs, and faked a terrorist attack on the United States.

Obama has a long way to go to come even as close as Bush in terms of sheer stupidity.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive
 

what is funny about the continued arrogance of many that oppose President Obama is the insistence that he have produced solutions to problems that were generated over the past eight years plus. In nine months you can not create numerous jobs, stem the tide of a severely abused economy (worse since the great depression) and fix health care. The ground breaking legislation and stances that he has put forth already will be culminating with the passing of a health care reform bill. This bill will be a step in the right direction to fix a system that is crippled and which is a parasite on our economy. give the man time and acknowledge the good that he has done. He has changed the world view of America for the short term, he has challenged America to get involved in both the political process and in our communities at large. Yes he does not have a long list of accomplishments yet, however tackling the economy, healthcare, and two wars at the same time.

Posted by Lamont | Report as abusive
 

Obama might have a way to go before he trumps Bush in stupidity, or at least bad public speaking.

But the way things are going with his opinion polls, he might soon be a contender for most hated president. If there is one thing Americans hate more then a bad president, it is an ineffectual one.

Obama may turn out to be the Carter of our age. The only difference being he got his nobel prize for doing nothing.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive
 

Here’s the latest example of how Obama is rowing back from campaign promises: During the campaign, he talked about a tough line on Sudan and its genocidal president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Obama advocated tougher sanctions and a no-fly zone so that Sudanese government planes couldn’t bomb villages in Darfur.Now they are rolling out a new, be-gentle-with-Omar-Hassan policy which will feature “incentives.”

As for Obama’s pipe dream of a nuclear-free world, interesting article today in the Washpost talking about rebuilding tactical nuclear weapons so they can be stockpiled well into the 21st century.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2009/10/16/AR2009101603619. html

Posted by JSerkoff | Report as abusive
 

Is focusing on the one man in the hot seat the sensible thing to do? Obama, like Bush, might just be the smoke to front the mirrors behind which the decisions are really made.
I’d agree he seems to appear increasingly inept, but he hasn’t had much time. He does seem to be tasked with pushing s*** up-hill with a rake.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

No sincere person ever refers to himself as “humble”. To do so is a distasteful manifestation of conceit. In polite circles, we say, It Just Isn’t Done.

For things done by the previous administration, which was an arrogant troglodyte mess, alien to the very concept of humility, heads must roll. Meanwhile, whether it’s because he is allegedly “new at this” or just naturally incapable of facing decisions head-on and making really good ones, Barack Obama is incrementally letting down the very people who elected him with his protracted litany of same-ness and immature vacillation. That isn’t humble – it’s stupid.

There is no recipe for guaranteed success, but here’s one absolutely guaranteed to avoid the sort of sordid serial failure that’s been haunting and humiliating America since Reagan-Bush I:

Simply detect wherever the fingerprints and footsteps of the Bush dynasty are to be found, and move decisively in the opposite direction. As any poll worth its salt will tell you, it’s what the people want.

No need to thank me, Mr. Obama. But Yes, You Can.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive
 

The one thing i envy is europes supreme Blamelessness in all matters of the world.
Was it the United States that completely screwed up the Middle East? Was it the United States that mismanaged africa to the point of extreme?
The World asks the United States to Lead, and then, when she does, the World gets nervous and rebels. What kind of people go around asking for USA leadership then resent it the moment its put into place?
Bush eliminated two extremist threats in Afghanistan and Iraq. As for the gent who talked about bush looking for WMDS in iraq….well guess what bub, they just found iraqs airforce. after 7 years, the country just found its lost 41 fighter jets. Im pretty sure the Kurds did not Sarin Gas themselves so they could kill 150k people.
And if you honestly think ANY president, left or right would purposely attack our own nation just for the sake of ‘pity,solidarity,favor’ you sir are a complete idiot.
Stop blaming bush, he did a very good job around the world, and my only regret was he didnt finish with iran first.

 

Jay, you’re displaying signs of confused delusional thinking! “he didnt finish with iran first” is an oxymoron! Further evidence of delusion is encapsulated in your praise for Bush, going to war on faked pretense is not a good example of anything approaching good leadership.
You will also find the Sarin gas was supplied by… yep, you guessed it! The good ol’ USA for Sadams use against the Iranians following the 1970′s Iranian revolution.
You will probably also find a strong European link in America’s heritage.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

Here in flyover country we call this type of thing common sense.

Posted by ROb | Report as abusive
 

…..and then we woke up and found the world was Islamic!
There are our liars, and then there are theirs.
Think about it. Who is the Prince of lies and who is the Truth?

Posted by Stan edwards | Report as abusive
 

We elect a man who has never ran a business much less a state and then are shocked when he can’t manage the country. I beleive that Obama is a good man that does what he “thinks” is right but is still being puppeted by a large base of “lobby” masters. The beauty is that when the people keep losing jobs, the dollars inflates to extremes someone might get off their tail and vote for some common sense. Once the US people realize that the Fed hasn’t done anything that was effective in well the last century to now, (exp: War on Drugs, Dept of Ed, Monetary Policy, IraqX2…) then maybe we won’t be so quick to hand over the power to Autocrats in the far off land of DC, or is it OZ? Doesn’t matter they don’t beleive in us but we are supposed to beleive in them… Please think about the simplistic beauty that is libertarianism, self reliance and mutual respect work…

Posted by n8 | Report as abusive
 

As an American, I feel that the only way to resolve our current foreign affairs nightmare (Afghanistan meltdown, Iran, Russia, etc) is to display humility. We cannot keep treating other countries as though we have complete control over them, because of the simple reason that we do not. Nor do we have the right to, even if we had the military or diplomatic power, which we also do not. Our credibility has been ruined by 8 years of idiocy that have not been displayed by a president within most American’s lifetimes. As a result of this, we cannot simply dictate terms to foreign nations, as they will not listen. At the same time however, many Americans have equated arrogant foreign policy with “security.” Shoving around Iran and Russia will lead to prolonged feelings of ill will at levels that currently have not been reached. If other countries respect us however, they will have no reason to harm us, regardless of their own military capabilities. For this reason it is far, far cheaper (financially, and in terms of human life) and far, far more secure to pursue a foreign policy strategy based on humility, as opposed to strategy that is grounded in the false assumption that we are powerful enough to demand anything from anyone.

Posted by osLuke | Report as abusive
 

Some of us are still waiting for Obama to read Israel the riotact. No other country has disregarded more UN resolutions and stolen more territory without US reactions. Their nuclear caoabilities are not being inspected. The native Palestions are treated in a way that closely resembles NAZI-methods.

AND the whole country is underpinned by US taxpayers !

Where is common sense here ?

Posted by Bestefar | Report as abusive
 

****Further evidence of delusion is encapsulated in your praise for Bush, going to war on faked pretense is not a good example of anything approaching good leadership.
You will also find the Sarin gas was supplied by… yep, you guessed it! The good ol’ USA for Sadams use against the Iranians following the 1970’s Iranian revolution.

Peter H, obviously i was the only one thinking clearly in this argument.
HOW is it a ‘fake pretense’ when you yourself admit that Saddam had those weapons to begin with?

And you can argue grammatical errors all you like….my support hasnt waned for the Bush administration. Bush in 8 years did more to promote a stable world than any British, Euro or American Politician other than Reagan or Bush I.

Can you imagine it……2 middle east nations on the road to a stable society? Couple them with Jordan and Israel, Add Egypt in there for good measure, and all you have left is Iran on the Negative side.

Iraq/Saddam had to go, Ghaddafi had to surrender, Afghanistan had to be dismantled so it could be rebuilt.

You can argue your political leanings all day long…but the very difference between USA- ‘action’, and Eruo ‘inaction’ will be what separates those who talk and those who act.

I recently read an article written by a european writer detailing exactly why europe is so reluctant to correct the problems of the world. Its not due to capability, the article states. Its not due to resources, the article states. Its due to the fact euros are afraid to lose the wealth they have accumulated over the last 50+ years.

 

Suppose you had an ally (say for purposes of discussion Great Britain) that claimed there were insurgents in USA, in say Kentucky. The US government says to the British they are trying to get rid of the insurgents, however, they have had little success, so the Brit’s send over Predator drones, blowing up the odd dwelling in Kentucky with Hellfire missles. These surgical strikes are not limited to the offending individuals, whoever is in the house they think the insurgents are in is blown to smithereens. I don’t see USA tolerating those missile strikes in Kentucky for very long.
Obama got off to a bit of a bad start with the friendly nation of Pakistan, as two days after he was in power he authorized additional missile strikes in Pakistan, not even asking Pakistan’s permission. To me, that seems a little arrogant and expedient. Diplomatic solutions are usually a better way to start.
Perhaps a better way to solve this mess is to help send the 3 million or so Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan now that the Taliban has been unseated from Government in Afghanistan. I believe that many problems around the world fester in Refugee camps, where people have been driven from their homes. Why doesn’t NATO fund their repatriation? I’m sure many of those people would be more than happy to return home and become productive citizens if they were offered the opportunity. They might even want to fight for their new government, since first the Soviets, then the Taliban displaced them in the first place.

Posted by Joe Dyck | Report as abusive
 

Jay, I think you might find that “why [E]urope is so reluctant to correct the problems of the world” isn’t about saving money it’s making for it’s 50 year existence! I suspect you might find it has to do with millenniums of experience of “correcting the problems of the world” which has taught us a lesson or two… and possibly something to do with land-boarders connecting us in a more tangible way with the world around us than any connection you, or any of your pea-brained fellow thoughtless goons are connected to anything approaching reality or rational, logical or sane reasoning.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

Not even 10 months since his actually taking power and already so many are decrying him as no good. Give him time to work before deciding he is too young,inefficient, unqualified and weak. And yes in Europe many think he’ll be a good president. And so do I!

Posted by American from Europe | Report as abusive
 

Neutral guy from India- we all think holocaust was terrible but does that mean Jews in Israel should be given a blank check. It is time America and its president put his foot down and say enough is enough. Two independent states of Israel and Palestine, and independent city state if Jerusalem with independent election and rule under the UN. Being a Christian in a very secular country of India does help me in being neutral..

Posted by Arun | Report as abusive
 

“What seemed perfectly legitimate to lawmakers in Washington — no disbursement of aid unless Pakistan demonstrated a “sustained commitment” to crack down on terrorism — was seen as an insult by the Pakistanis. Which raises the question whether a humble superpower is a contradiction in terms.”

It is indeed perfectly legitimate! Debusmann’s question is not in the slightest bit supported by this premise: in fact, this new aid package seems instead a far cry from those of the previous Administration, which handed out carte blanche millions and millions of dollars to the Pakistani government and military, most of which having gone directly into the coffers of the ISI. This aid package may actually reach those its designed to help.

Posted by Wes | Report as abusive
 

Ive just returned to Europe(Stuttgart, Germany) after a previous sojourn (Milan, Italy)
Believe me there is nothing in Europe that we want emulated in the States. Europeans are very feminized. This place is rife with some of the most mushy logic presented by humanity. The European Union while enjoying a high but precarious standard of living, can collapse at the rise of any crisis. Most of the anti-Americanism is carried by the young people who are oblivious to the leadership failings of Obama but see him as emblematic of what is chic,vogue, and avant garde. All very shallow.

Posted by Caudillo | Report as abusive
 

The only way for the president to change the world’s opinion of the U.S. is to pull all of our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and put our resources in protecting Americans in our own country.

Posted by Jack J. Lewis | Report as abusive
 

I hate to pop all your spend happy people bubbles, but lets look at why Americans take 30% of our wages illegaly. (16th amendment has never been ratified with the proper 2/3 vote) Give it to an orginazation known as the IRS who is funded by the agriculture department. Fist off dosent that sound absurd that we pay our taxes to a subdivision of the agricutlure sector of government..?? Secondly as ben franklyn a founder of amreica and briliant mind said “comerce with ALL nations alliances with none. This policy allows the best from every nation and no paybacks. As we all know when you do a favor for someone usually its never repayed. If it is even brought up its never equilly matched. This has been americas plague since the UN creation. We cannot be the worlds big brother. Let alone a big brother to its own people. Democrats are an opisite to the republicans but its apparent to me being loyal to neither. They have the same interests since world war 2 and that is to bankrupt america fully make our children slaves on the land that was promised to them from their grandfathers. Worst off we are going into recievership from all the nations whom we have borrowed from just to pay for the 3rd world to have machine guns bombs and yes NUCLEAR weapons that threaten the world as a whole. Worst off we have to pay interest to service these debts that I am sure 9/10 people did not want to happen. Look where dose it state in our consititution that there has to be a seperation of church and state. If so then all the 501 C3 churches are doing illegal actions. Why is our country a whore when it comes to allowing its people to be pimped out to the highest bidder. Excuse me going to throw up now,and plan on a new place to call home before im too poor to leave. 2 years remember 2 years.

Posted by ghost from the republic past | Report as abusive
 

“It is time America and its president put his foot down and say enough is enough. Two independent states of Israel and Palestine, and independent city state if Jerusalem with independent election and rule under the UN.”

The UN tried that before. It didn’t work out well. In fact, it resulted in the Arab nations invading Israel. And this lead to the situation we have now.

After several attempts to fight Israel, as recent as last year, the clock cannot be turned back. The new Israeli borders and settlements are just something a Palestinian state will need to accept.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive
 

I remember in a finance lecture my lecturer explained to us how the credit crunch happened. It was something along these lines:

“A mortgage broker finds some guy (without a job) sitting on a porch and offers him a very large mortgage to buy a house, and assures the man ‘house prices are going to up anyways, so you don’t really need to worry about paying back the interest’. The guy charmed by the charismatic mortgage broker, without thinking of the consequences or ways to pay back the mortgage, took the mortgage broker’s offer.”

This was partly how banks got the toxic assets, which eventually led to the credit crunch.

Now, let’s replace the mortgage broker with Obama, and the guy sitting on a porch the American voters. The very charismatic Obama made a lot of promises, such as cutting taxes and more benefits, which sounds very attractive. However, most American voters didn’t really think clearly of the logic behind taking in less money while spending a lot more, and subsequently voted for Obama. I’m not saying Obama will create another credit crunch, but in my opinion, he is going to “change” America, although not in a way he had promised. As someone once articulated this to me, “Obama is a very good orator, but I just hope he can do half the things he promised”.

Posted by Noobface | Report as abusive
 

Commenting is very easy about a person or any delicated issue, but thinking in depth is difficult. human tendency is to prejudge and pass on comments may hurt any human. Obama has taken over charge as president and he has studied the Global situation to take decisions. If is a commodity, one can brief about that and talk about it without much thinking. But Presidential role is not a small one, hence it may take time to understand and react. And do not underestimate the leaders without understanding the situations.

 

For President Obama to progress the peace process, all he has to do is to cut all fundings to Israel. It will be a win to the peace process and a win to the American taxpayers. The billions can be used to fund a public health option in America, instead of one in Israel!

Posted by Stephen Wong | Report as abusive
 

Good Article Bernd!

 

“For President Obama to progress the peace process, all he has to do is to cut all fundings to Israel. It will be a win to the peace process and a win to the American taxpayers.”

That would be an interesting plan.

But if it ends up starting a new regional conflict, will you personally agree to allow your neighbours to horsewhip you out of your hometown and keep all your personal property?

That would be fair, I think.

Posted by JoeyJoe | Report as abusive
 

Anything that has anything to do with G W Bush must be HUMBLED. But the more accurate description is DESTROYED.

Posted by The Real Deal | Report as abusive
 

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