TCS Daily

How the World Views Obama

By Alvaro Vargas Llosa - January 17, 2008 12:00 AM

Foreign leaders and journalists often joke that the whole world should get to vote in U.S. elections since the outcome affects the entire planet. His recent setback in New Hampshire notwithstanding, an intense scrutiny of Barack Obama is taking place from Buenos Aires to Paris. But what observers and politicians are saying about him is what they are really saying about their own societies.

In Europe, one senses a quiet shame. The left, which loves to criticize the Unites States for its imperial foreign policy and its discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, is not really saluting Obama. There have been few gushing articles in Italy'  La Repubblica or France's Le Monde. And by sending the message that it might be ready to elect an African-American, a part of mainstream America is showing the industrialized world a more open-minded attitude than the United States usually gets credit for.

This is particularly embarrassing in socialist Europe. Contrast the attitude of those white Americans who are ready for a President Obama with the conditions that have led France's North African immigrants to riot on the outskirts of Paris. And have the Scandinavian countries ever generated anything comparable to Obama among the minorities who are tended to so generously as long as they don't make too much noise?

The European right appears more enthusiastic about the liberal Obama than the left. French political scientist Dominique Moisi seems to think the Democrat will give pro-American Europeans some arguments to "sell" the United States among anti-Americans. "Why is Obama so different," he asks in a recent syndicated essay, "from the other presidential candidates? After all, in foreign policy matters, the next president's room to maneuver will be very small. He (or she) will have to stay in Iraq, engage in the Israel-Palestine conflict on the side of Israel, confront a tougher Russia, deal with an ever more ambitious China, and face the challenge of global warming. If Obama can make a difference, it is not because of his policy choices, but because of what he is. The very moment he appears on the world's television screens, victorious and smiling, America's image and soft power would experience something like a Copernican revolution."

French philosopher Guy Sorman states in a recent op-ed article syndicated in Europe that "the heart of the United States is still conservative" and will "remain within the constraints set by Reagan in the 1980s: moral values, markets, military activism and small government." He points out that Obama will pull the troops out of Iraq but reinforce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Other right-wing commentators point to the fact that, unlike Hillary Clinton, Obama's health-care plan would not impose mandatory insurance -- a sign that his type of social engineering is "light."

In Latin America, conservatives are also looking positively at Obama for different reasons. They use him as an example of the reasonable way to bring about social change -- peacefully and through the established institutions -- even if they disagree with his liberal penchant. For instance, in Argentina's La Nacion, Mario Diament notes that Obama's background means the candidate "does not carry the history of racial discrimination" that other black leaders carry, and applauds the fact that "he is not one of the irate leaders of the civil rights era." The implicit message directed at Latin America's left is that the United States is a self-correcting society that, unlike radical Bolivians or Venezuelans, does not believe in replacing the legacy of discrimination against minorities with populist revolutions.

The Latin American left, sensing that the story of racial mobility implicit in Obama's personal story is too good an ad for American society, has chosen to moderate its embrace of the black American senator. One pundit noted in Venezuela that the only meaningful gesture toward Latin America coming out of an Obama foreign policy agenda would be "the lifting of the travel restrictions against Cuba" and "perhaps one day talking to Hugo Chavez."

Few observers overseas, left or right, seem to expect Obama to signify a traumatic shift for the United States. Regarding domestic policy, no Europeans or Latin Americans expect anything like 1932 (the New Deal) or 1964 (the Great Society); concerning foreign policy, nobody expects anything like 1968 (Nixon and Kissinger's realpolitik). That makes Obama's gradual rise to prominence mostly a psychological and symbolic phenomenon rather than a harbinger of major change. Consequently, the way he is viewed overseas has much more to do with the way each faction relates to the other
across the ideological divide at home than what Obama would actually do or not do.



Socialist, Images and Reality
To the left, image is everything. The results are irrelevant and of no consequence. Thus Obama signifies "hope" and "change" but what does he really stand for?

I was amused and yet saddened to watch people on TV during the Iowa caucus talk about "we need change". Ok, fine, exactly what change is needed and how does Obama plan to effect this change? Never heard a peep. Not one single change monger had a comment on when what and how and this is indicative of the emotionalism of the left. Politics are governed by emotion and feelings. Thus we have hope with no definition of either what were hoping for or what is causing the despair.

That said, I also find it interesting that the left is so obsessed about race. They embrace race and espouse tolerance while practicing total intolerance. Example: Canadian courts trying the publisher of "The Canadian" for publishing the Mohammed cartoons. The crime? Hate Thought. Yes, Hate thought. All from the tolerant left we are now punished for incorrect thought.

In conclusion I offer this cannon fodder; I would vote for a Woman, Black, Asian, Hispanic, I could care less about race IF he/she was a free market fiscal conservative who espouses individual rights and freedom while protecting national security.

In other words, I vote for my ideological ideals, not the race or gender. In all aspects of life we should seek excellence, NOT mediocrity.

Obama, Hillary, Edwards, stalwarts of mediocrity, socialists and liberals all caught up in pandering to every grievance and disaffected group who finds a home in the democratic party.

My only hope is that he loses the election and I hope for this solely on ideological grounds.

Images and Reality Redux
>" I would vote for a Woman, Black, Asian, Hispanic, I could care less about race IF he/she was a free market fiscal conservative who espouses individual rights and freedom while protecting national security.... I vote for my ideological ideals, not the race or gender."

Bravo for your principled stance, with which I agree. Sadly, I'll add that you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for the majority percentage of the masses to adopt your position. A clarification, however: I don't attribute that percentage's lack of attention to ideological ideals as a result of sheer stupidity, but rather as willful ignorance -- most people, in their busy modern lifestyles, simply do not devote the time necessary for the ample ideological scrutiny necessary to inform their political voting choices (no matter what their inclinations, left or right). Not everyone is as interested in the political mechanisms or ideological conflicts as they should be (to the degree that they don't pay attention to how such considerations actually affect their individual lives), to be sure -- and certainly not everyone is as availed of the time/avenues via which those mechanisms and conflicts are intimately discussed as individuals such as you and I and all the others who's active interest spurs our more attentive research.

Supeficiality is a constant in the political process -- it will always be such, and I don't have a remedy for that problem.

The international left is quiet about Obama now - but when he loses it will start talking
The story will be that his loss proves the essential racism of the US.

"ample ideological scrutiny"
First of all, most do not devote the time necessary to even DEVELOP ANY ideological ideals in the first place to apply scrutiny against. :)

I recommend The Myth of the Rational Voter. I just started on chapter one myself. But, it is already loaded with some cool stuff on why voters are such morons. Very sobering so far. Based upon what you wrote in the above and the questions you raise, I think you'll find some answers in that book.

You are all full of it
Hell the author Alvaro Vargas Llosa doesn't seem to understand his own view let alone tell what other peoples are. These strawman views of the rest of the world are just that strawman, and silly to boot. Australia is a leftist land for the first time we have a Labour Governments a all levels of Government. Obama is not viewed here in a very positive light, in fact the only one that we have got issues with Huckabee. But go ahead keep building those strawman views of the left and how the world sees US.

Our own Internal Left will start that battle...before the election even happens.
..and they'll figure out a way to pin it on the Republicans, even though all the nasty dirt coming from Team Hillary is probably going to provide them with all the cannon fodder they'll need:

Opening line of Republican attack ad

"A leading Democrat says this about Barak HUSSEIN Obama..."
"The Chairman of BET says this about Barak HUSSEIN Obama..."
"Ted Kennedy says that Barak HUSSEIN Obama is really Osama..."

on that note an American, I say "who gives a damn what foreigners think?"


Australian ethics
I lived near Narrabeen, north of Sydney, back in 1972 & 73. Wonderful place, however, at the time, Australia was rampantly racist and would not even allow a black foreigner to enter the country without diplomatic cause. I understand that the country has at least moved into the 20th century as it pertains to race relations. I wonder if the Geek from Oz could ever see an Aboriginal running as leader of a majority party?

a lot view him as an apostate
Now what are muslims commanded to do to apostates again? If he would get to be prez it means while he was in no muslim country would deal with him(unless it means getting handouts). Obama started out as a muslim in Indonesia, went to a Madrassa there, that's why he even has those muslim names. If he claims to be a christian now, it means he's an apostate, and muslims hate them even more than normal infidels.

It will be Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, after the primaries. The Democrats will control both houses of Congress in 2009, and pass universal health care coverage. The "have-nots" will finally get something for nothing by voting for Democrats. They will obtain universal health care coverage.

I wouldn't take the Oz Geek seriously.
If you read his "commentary", you'll notice that he does not even know how to write in the English language. But, he thinks he is justified in calling other people "silly". Now that's REALLY silly.

The great one speaks, Crap
You may be surprised to find the that English is not the first language for many Australians. In fact my native tongue has no written form other then a phonetic english version. It seems that "the great one" is one of theose types that think anybody who can't speak English must be stupid. I can tell you as far as racism is concerned (and I can tell you first hand as I'm a koori man) Australia is not much dirreferent to the US in that respect. It is not a racist contry, however there are alot of racist in it. However one point to note is Australians voted in a referendum to acknowledge my people in 1967. Correct me if I'm wrong but in your country it was only by an act of your courts that the same rights where given to Afro-Americans. As for Black people in power well our system is a bit diffrent to yours. we mearly wish representation (Aus 2.2% of pop, US 12% of pop). However the fact is we have not had enough black pople in power both here and in the US. That was the point of my post. We would love to see Obama as the next Prez. We wouldn't like to see Huckabee.

black people in power
If you are saying that a black guy should be in power just because he's black, then that's also racist, right? Why not be colour blind, like minorities want us to be?
Is 'koori' the name of your tribe? Before the white people came to australia, did your tribe let guys from another tribe be the chief of your tribe?

Obama is the candidate for people against Hillary.
Talking to my left wing friends they like Obama simply because Hillary is so un-likable. Nothing more and nothing less.

voters duped
for the average voter the election is nothing more than a popularity contest and the MSM wants it that way.

there is really no indepth debate on their philosophies or their detailed policies. nothing on a meaningful agenda.

it is nothing more than a horse race - who's ahead - who's behind. the debates are almost nothing more that gotcha statements and zingers.

we are not serious about the election, the media wants us to pick based on speaking ability, color, or gender.

and we complain about who gets into office

Short History Lesson
wwgeek1 says:
However one point to note is Australians voted in a referendum to acknowledge my people in 1967. Correct me if I'm wrong but in your country it was only by an act of your courts that the same rights where given to Afro-Americans.
Allow me to correct you - in our country, we fought a 4-year war against ourselves (we spent our own blood and treasure) to give 'acknowledgement' to Afro-Americans. We then changed our Constitution and passed laws in our popular legislatures (federal and state) to enforce the verdict of the war. Vastly different is the historical truth from the idea that philosopher-kings in black robes handed down edicts, as apparently you think.

No Subject
"Contrast the attitude of those white Americans who are ready for a President Obama with the conditions that have led France's North African immigrants to riot on the outskirts of Paris. And have the Scandinavian countries ever generated anything comparable to Obama...?"

This is utterly beside the point: African-Americans have been an intrinsic (if suppressed) part of America from almost the beginning and America is an immigrant nation by definition. The traditional nation-states of Europe (and the rest of the world) are based on a degree of cultural and ethnic homogeneity. The idea that they should ape American immigration and assimilation policy is beginning to hit the brick wall of reality.

The minorities of France and Sweden, etc are NOT French or Swedish and never can be. Trying to shame them into accepting colonization disguised as multiculturalism is nothing less than forcing them into cultural suicide.

One step closer to economic ruin
Sure, and then she will raise taxes on those greedy people who make more than 200K owning businesses and employing the have nots.

Were on the road to ruin and nobody can even see it.

No free lunch
The have-nots may get universal health care coverage, but the health care system they'll leave their kids will resemble Canada & the UK's. Worse, they'll inherit slow economic growth, high unemployment, and ever-diminishing economic freedom.

To top the above off, if the kids end up in the middle class, they'll bear a cumulative tax burden exceeding 50% of their incomes and net estates. This will be caused by what I like to call the welfare state three-step down the Road to Serfdom.

Step 1: To fund ambitious and expensive new welfare state programs while pursuing "social justice", tax rates are cranked up sky-high to fleece the "rich" while the tax base is broadened to gobble up everything one can do with wealth, if one has it.

Step 2: The rich respond to the fleecing by sheltering their wealth from the tax man, and tax revenues fall off as the economy begins to slow for lack surplus liquid and human capital; meanwhile, political pressure originating from general discontent with government incompetence and corruption in running the ambitious and expensive new welfare state programs causes their costly expansion, which costs and revenue shortfalls are initially covered by ruinous borrowing;

Step 3: The public fisc is deep in the red, class war tax revenues have completely dried up, economic stagnation and ruinous borrowing have resulted in stagflation and currency devaluation, and the only class who can bail the welfare state out is the middle class, who are presented with a Faustian bargain: Get your lips off the public teat or pay up. They pay up, and boy howdy do they pay, and pay and pay.

This is Western Europe's story, and it will soon be America's. And I thought we were different, special even.

Russian roulet with six chambers full
That's what the French and Swedes are playing because they've not protected their cultures from multiculturalism, that is, cultural relativism. Certainly the French like to pretend resistance to Anglo-Saxon culture, but it's only a facade: The other day I watched a French American Idol style program, and all of the songs and genres save one originated in America or the UK. Meanwhile, Swedes often refer to Sweden as America's 51st state.

Add cultural relativism, and you quickly see the problem: Sweden and France can't reject one culture while wholeheartedly accepting another without violating their multi-culti principles. As a result, they've frittered away the standards whereby they measured both the value of their own cultures and others. Add to this the knee-jerk underdog worship and faux anti-Americanism proffered by the MSM, and you get a confused, irritated and ultimately reactionary general public poised to swing rightwards along the political spectrum.

You should check out the Snopes articles on Obama and his supposed Muslim background

re obama apostasy article
Good article you found. And even if he can't pull the wool over navie americans eyes, he can't fool the muslims all over the world; they're sensitive to that stuff. They think it's their duty to kill apostates. There's also no chance they would ever take him seriously.

The image obscures the reality
I'm really surprised at the assumption that Obama is some kind of liberal... or that he is supported by liberals... or that he will lose because he is black.

His base is precisely those people who support him because he is black. And they fail to note that he is not black. There is zero percent African American in either his ancestry or his upbringing. He is an Irish-Kenyan who was raised in places like Indonesia and Hawaii. The guy's no more black than Tiger Woods.

Nor has he said anything to indicate whether he is liberal or otherwise. People just make that assumption because he presents himself as a nice, reasonable guy.

If anything, what little evidence we have shows that he is a tool of the banks. Much of his funding comes from that industry, and what few policy utterances he makes about the economy carefully avoid areas that may be undesirable to that industry. Unlike the other two D candidates, he is not calling for a moratorium on foreclosures-- nor does he advocate a freeze on mortgage rates.

Coincidentally, his largest contributor is Goldman Sachs.

Virtually no one has any inkling of this. They get their information from our most information-free medium-- television. And thus they are suffused with warm, fuzzy thoughts of him.

TCS Daily Archives