Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama wins world's embrace

In the past eight years, Americans have seen their flag burned in Jordan and Egypt, their embassies attacked in Serbia and the Philippines, their leaders criticized by Europeans, Africans and South Americans.

But with the election of its first black president, America on Wednesday was again seeing millions of people worldwide praise it as a symbol of hope, opportunity and the power of democracy.

"All day, I've had friends and students coming up to me and saying, 'Now you can be proud to be American again,' " said Scott Blinder of New Jersey, who teaches at Britain's Oxford University.

Sen. Barack Obama's victory was cheered from his ancestral homeland of Kenya, where the government declared today a national holiday, to Indonesia, where hundreds of students at his old elementary school danced in the rain, to Obama, Japan, where residents sported "I love Obama'' T-shirts.

Most world leaders joined in the congratulations, clearly hoping Obama's presidency will provide the kind of leadership and fresh ideas that have been scarce in the waning days of the Bush administration.

Europe needs Obama's "energy, his rejection of injustice and his determination to go forward to build a safer, fair and more stable world,'' said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. "Together, we must seize this historic opportunity to combine our efforts to meet the economic, climate and security challenges that face us all.''

Even Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a combative foe of Bush, congratulated Obama on the "historic election of a descendant of Africans" and called for "new relations" between the two nations.

A far cry from the day when portraits of John F. Kennedy hung in homes around the world, America's reputation abroad plunged during the Bush years despite the initial burst of support after the 9/11 attacks. The war in Iraq, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the disdain for longtime allies — "old Europe,'' as it was dismissively called — were viewed as evidence of an America grown arrogant and imperial.

From the early primaries, much of the planet has been transfixed by the story of Barack Hussein Obama, whose ties to Africa and Asia made him seem a true citizen of the world. During a European tour last summer, he drew crowds in Berlin and elsewhere that surpassed those of even the biggest rock stars.

By Tuesday's election, polls showed overwhelming support for Obama in most countries. Reflecting the unprecedented interest were banner headlines — "Make the world better!'' urged a German tabloid — and nonstop TV coverage that transformed pubs in Ireland and malls in the Persian Gulf into election-viewing centers.

"I didn't sleep this night in Israel because I was following the results and biting my nails,'' said Abraham Diskin, a political scientist at Israel's Hebrew University. When a reporter phoned Wednesday morning, Diskin still had the TV on, listening as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak recalled the positive impression Obama made during a July visit.

Still, Israelis are of mixed mind about Obama, who faces enormous foreign policy challenges with two wars, the nuclear ambitions of Iran, a newly assertive Russia, the always tense Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a long line of countries that will want him to put their interests first.

A majority of Israelis backed McCain, long a hawkish supporter of Israel, while "there is more uncertainty with Obama because this is not a person that was in decisionmaking positions in the past,'' Diskin said.

"On the other hand, very close to half of the Jewish population have hopes that Obama will be more involved in the peace effort (with Palestinians)," he said, "and will exercise pressure on both sides to promote if not the possibility of peace, at least a peace agreement.''

In Pakistan, an often troublesome U.S. ally, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani wasted no time telling Obama that the United States must stop missile attacks on Taliban and al-Qaida targets inside the country or risk losing the war on terror.

Other Pakistanis, though, preferred to let Obama relax a bit and savor his victory. "Support for him has been extremely positive,'' says Mueen Afzal, Pakistan's former finance secretary. "Compared to the Bush administration, Obama is a breath of fresh air, really.''

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@sptimes.com.

Obama wins world's embrace 11/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?

    National

    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?

    Health

    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again

    Cooking

    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]