Friday, November 7, 2008

The Changing Definition Of "Pro-American"

I was listening to Prime Minister's Question time, listening to Mr. Brown and Mr. Cameron compete for ownership over Obama's mantle. Of course, neither of them have it; Gordon Brown is connected to the liberal policies of Obama's positions, but the sentiment of change against an unresponsive government is easily picked up by David Cameron.

But that's not really the point, from my perspective (I'm not in England). I'm fascinated by the way the Obama election has completely changed the idea of "pro-American" and "anti-American." Was the break in sentiments toward America so transformed by Bush in 2000? Clinton in 1992? I think they were when Reagan succeeded Carter, but that's pre-history to me.

Sarkozy and Harper are two world leaders who spring to mind as having been labelled as "pro-American." Really, what it meant was that they're in favor of the neoconservative agenda. Will they continue to support America in the way they have, or will they be more connected to America's Republican Party?

Will anti-Americanism in the Middle East really be transformed? Within a few days of the election, the Shiite and Sunni blocks of the Iraqi Parliament were already progressing much faster in their negotiations with the Bush Administration over the political and military handover. Several cited the fact that although they distrust the Bush Administration, they have more confidence in an Obama Administration being fair to them.

Some places are less than enthused. Pakistan, for instance, which Obama said he would be willing to launch raids into (with clear intelligence and facing resistance from Pakistan), has reason to be less than enthused. Other countries who are feeling excited about Obama might slowly discover that Obama is not necessarily on their side.

Russia and China both took a full day to respond to Obama's win. They truly expected a McCain win, according to some, and don't know how to react. How will Prime Minister Putin relate to Obama? How will President Hu?

Syria voiced its praise for Barack Obama, and that it was looking forward to working with him. Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister (who is looking to win in elections in February against hardliner Benjamin Netenyahu and labor party leader Ehud Barak--who may himself be replaced before February) warned Obama that speaking directly to Iran might be interpreted as "weakness" (I wonder if Tzipi Livni has ever met Rahm Emanuel?). It will be difficult to stay on Israel's side, in the coming years, but certainly other countries will be closer to us.

Change has arrived already.

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