Obama expected to be greeted as a hero and champion by the peoples and governments of what Donald Rumsfeld called derisively “Old Europe,” and by leaders in the Middle East and Third World.
He thought it would matter that he “looked different” from previous presidents. But all presidents have looked different from one another, and the election of the first black president probably had more resonance to Americans than to foreigners who have less emotional connection with our history.
Obama may have been cheered by his reception in Berlin in July 2008, but he has gotten the cold shoulder from leaders of European countries old and new. …
… Where Obama has done better is in regions where he has followed the trajectory of Bush’s (and in some cases Bill Clinton’s) policies.
In Africa, he has continued Bush’s widely successful campaign to eradicate AIDS. But there are signs that in some African countries Bush is more popular than the president whose father was a citizen of Kenya.
In Asia, once you get east of the horrifying conundrum of Pakistan, Obama has built alliances, formal and informal, with the major countries ringing China. Foreign-policy analyst Walter Russell Mead hails the recent and first trilateral talks between the U.S., Japan, and India as “history made.”
Obama has built on our rapprochement with India, started gingerly by Clinton and continued with gusto by Bush.