Obama on the world stage

January 22, 2009

China Daily , China's English-language newspaper: President Barack Obama has portrayed himself as a pragmatist, and empiricist. Then he should not shut his eyes to the most precious diplomatic legacy of his predecessor.

Sino-U.S. relations have been fragile and vulnerable to politicizing, owing to both Cold War ideologies and conflicting interests. Judging from his previous words, President Obama may see China as a competitor his country will have to deal with. The next question is how.

Interdependence between the two economies is beyond description, particularly during this recession. From the financial crisis to regional stability to global warming, they need each other anyway, even if unwillingly. So zero-sum games are simply out of the question.

The good news for Mr. Obama is that his predecessor, through eight years in office, has laid a decent foundation for one of the world's most influential relationships. That is a fine bequest he should generously embrace.

Times of India: Mr. Obama's inauguration party, which has seen millions of Americans pour onto the streets to have a blast, is a fine celebration of democratic ideals and values. Democracy's enabling promises are why Americans and those who share similar values elsewhere are raising a toast as they welcome President Barack Hussein Obama.

Arab News , Saudi Arabia: If Arab and Muslim eyes were less focused on Washington ... it is because the pain of Gaza is too raw. Even so, we too have high hopes that, after eight years of catastrophic American engagement in the region, there will be a more balanced, more intelligent, more collaborative approach from Washington. For more than half a century, the U.S. has treated the region like an errant imperial possession that needs to be taken in hand, but these last eight years have been the worst. ...

Hope unfulfilled can be reborn as bitter resentment. The unavoidable truth is that the new president is not going to be able to deliver on all his promises, let alone everyone else's expectations of him that exceed by far anything he promised.

Yediot Ahronot , Israel: When the festive noise fades in Washington, and in Jerusalem, the joy over the victory in Gaza, the big U.S. and little Israel must - with or without Europe - look for any and all means to strike at Iran's capabilities - military, economic and diplomatic.

In a more pointed note to President Obama: Up to now, your speeches have been fantastic. Now let's see your actions.

The News , Mexico: Our northern neighbor has sworn in a new president amid scenes of joyous celebration. ... The Calder?n administration hopes Mexico will be a player in the U.S. foreign policy debate (and not just as a security risk). The hope is that Mexico will be seated at the table as alternatives and solutions are discussed, and not be regarded as the problem. ... Patience and pragmatism will benefit us most. But for now, it is enough to marvel at the transition itself, particularly how it was accepted - and even embraced - by those who were defeated in the polls last November. That aspect of democracy is something we have yet to achieve. Well, that and accountability - and government transparency.

Die Welt , Germany : The hopes now placed on his shoulders are immense. It looks as if he knows how to temper these hopes ... without losing face. In America, a land full of pathos, it won't be held against him if he turns out not to be a true miracle healer. The disappointment will in all likelihood be felt abroad, particularly in Europe. That is because Barack Obama will quickly make it clear that he is, above all, the president of the United States and will represent that country's interests in a way that may be thoroughly uncomfortable for Europe.

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