Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The World's View of Obama's Win

Adek Berry / AFP / Getty

1. Malaysia

What seemed audacious and improbable before is now a reality. In Obama's victory are sown the seeds of great expectations that a truly new chapter will be written in the history of the world.

Muslim nations will have cause to celebrate this triumph; it offers prospects for genuine dialogue and engagement and should witness the politics of diplomacy supplant the politics of war and the theology of terror. Other nations traditionally at loggerheads with America may find reason to reciprocate to a more balanced approach.

By Anwar Ibrahim
Former Deputy Prime Minister

See pictures of the world reacting to Obama's win.

See pictures of Obama's victory celebration in Chicago.

Libor Fojtik / Isifa / Getty

2. Czech Republic

With all respect to Senator McCain, whom I know and whom I find very sympathetic, I am more glad that Barack Obama won the election. I have an intense impression that a fresh wind will drift into the Washington air upon his arrival, that he will be a President of a new generation — a new type, with a great understanding of the multicultural nature of the contemporary world.

By Vaclav Havel
Playwright and former President

Damien Meyer / AFP / Getty

3. France

The skeptics can go on repeating ad nauseam that an Obama presidency will change nothing about American hyperpower and the reprobation it elicits. Anti-Americanism will not disappear as though by magic, but its life will get harder. It will have to revise its arguments. Planetary shock wave? Another, geopolitical New Deal? One thing is sure — which places a heavy, metahistorical responsibility on the new President's shoulders: never will an American election have excited in the rest of the world a hope at once so crazy and so reasoned.

By Bernard-Henri Lévy
Writer and philosopher

Prakash Singh / AFP

4. South Africa

A new era has dawned for Africa and for the entire world. It is almost like what happened in South Africa after Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of that land. Then, as now, people of color everywhere — in Africa, in the U.S., everywhere in the world — had a new spring in their walk. They held their heads high, and their shoulders were straighter.

Obama's election has given hope to people everywhere that change is possible, that this debilitating status quo of a polarized world of "them" and "us" can change. People the world over want the U.S. to take its rightful place as leader in the commonwealth of nations. They want to see a U.S. without the arrogant unilateralism that led to the disastrous Iraq invasion, to the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the refusal to sign the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. All this left the world resenting a bullyboy U.S.

The world now expects the new President to close down that abomination, Guantánamo Bay; to bring viable initiatives for peace in the Middle East; to bolster a good Bush project, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); to take real notice of Africa and other developing parts of our global village.

Today, those who want to end the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance, those who want to promote justice, peace and greater tolerance among different faiths are celebrating because Barack Obama is the new President of the United States.

By Desmond Tutu
Archbishop emeritus

Susana Vera / reuters

5. Spain

Any decision made by Americans, who hold the political power in one of history's most outstanding democracies, would have been respected by Spain and its government. Yet the election of Senator Obama as President of the United States of America, apart from deserving my respect, makes me feel deeply satisfied. Because we share the same vision about the need to face the current challenges: to reform the financial system after the first global crisis of the globalized economy; to fight against inequality and in favor of inclusive, united societies; to defend sustainable development and face up to the consequences of climatic change. We also share a zeal to effectively prevent terrorism and other threats that haunt our security. We both see dialogue as a useful instrument to reduce and avoid conflicts, and recognize the legitimacy of international rule of law and we respect human rights. Cooperation with the government of Spain, whose democracy has always been a friend and a faithful partner of the American democracy, can be particularly useful in reaching these objectives. In this complex period our world is facing, Barack Obama's election has kindled a feeling of hope, one that most Spanish citizens and Europeans share, and one that reflects a shared confidence in the real capacity to build a better world.

By José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain

Manpreet Romana / AFP / Getty

6. India

The most important thing that Barack Obama brings to the presidency is his willingness to reason. He won his presidency not as a black American but as a reasoning American who happens to be black. America needs a change from the reign of "obtruding false rules pranked in reason's garb" — to use John Milton's words. Attacking Iraq for an imagined link with 9/11 was daft. Having unaffordable health care is not a reasonable way to run a rich society. Destroying the environment is not smart. Spreading the wealth a bit in a deeply unequal society is not as offensive to reason as it appeared to Joe the noncertified Plumber.

The economic crisis has been caused by doctrinaire economic policies, and the solution calls for remedial actions that are reasoned — and seen to be reasoned, to generate confidence. In politics, the alienation of the world is not only because the U.S. has been so unilateral but also because the unilateral choices often have been so dumb.

Reasoning also demands re-examination. Obama has to reassess whether he has got the right balance in policies on trade. On Afghanistan, he must examine how to balance his military toughness with the building of social infrastructure there and finding ways and means of getting Pakistan's energetic — and largely secular — civil society on his side, not against him. Obama may have to reassess some of his campaign rhetoric while firmly retaining his largehearted reasonableness.

By Amartya Sen
Nobel Prize–winning economist

Greater Expectations
Olli Hakamies / Lehtikuva / Reuters

7. Britain

When he spoke in Berlin on July 24, Senator Obama pledged to work with Europe in a spirit of "constant cooperation, strong institutions and shared sacrifice." That is precisely what we want to do. Our highest priority must be to meet the current challenges in the global economy, building a stable and effective international financial system and addressing the threat of climate change. Second, we must commit to tackle at root violent extremism, in particular in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And third, we must make the search for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East a top priority.

By David Miliband
Foreign Secretary

Greater Expectations
Brad Barket / Getty

8. Kenya

The election of Barack Obama has many far-reaching and historic implications that go far beyond the borders of the United States. I am personally delighted not simply because Mr. Obama has one Kenyan parent and is a real African American but more so because of his many personal talents and breadth of knowledge as an exceptional human being. I believe Mr. Obama exhibits many of the best characteristics of our species in terms of intelligence, sensitivity, resolve and a willingness to reason.

While I am well aware of the many domestic issues that face the U.S., the future of the planet and its inhabitants is a greater concern for me. We all need an American leader who is not inward-looking and leading a self-interested superpower. The challenges we now face are less military and are far more daunting. Climate change and its global effects have to be as important for the U.S. and the world as anything else I can think of. The impact of the growing human population, in terms of resources and equity, on global underdevelopment, diseases and the shortages of water (and energy) are frankly terrifying. Solutions will require inspired leadership. We all require a President who will remain calm, focused and hopeful.

Well done, America; your democracy has delivered.

By Richard Leakey

Greater Expectations
Johannes Simon / Getty

9. Germany

Up to 8 out of 10 West Europeans would have voted for Obama, which points to a religious rather than political phenomenon. The way they see it, George W. Bush is a one-man axis of evil, and Obama the redeemer: "Deliver us, for thine is the kingdom . . ." Europeans want to love America again, and they imagine that a simple act of exorcism (called "elections") will rid them of the curse. But politics is not about redemption. Obama is not what West Europeans dream he is: polite, social-democratic and pacific. In other words, more European than American. Will the Euroswooners still love Obama when he presses them for more troops in Afghanistan and real sanctions on Iran?

By Josef Joffe
Journalist and political scientist

Greater Expectations
Raveendran / AFP / Getty

10. Egypt

The President-elect is an African-American Christian with a Muslim father who lived across many continents and came from humble beginnings. This sends a powerful message to the rest of the world about the need for diversity and building bridges, values that are at the core of any efforts to create a world at peace with itself. I am encouraged by President-elect Obama's statements about establishing a world free from nuclear weapons and about the importance of dialogue. I trust that the fog will be lifted on efforts for meaningful nuclear-arms-control measures. I also hope that conditions will be created soon for direct U.S.-Iran negotiations, which are key for durable peace and security in the Middle East.

By Mohamed ElBaradei
Director General, IAEA

Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP

11. Singapore

Obama's election will significantly reduce anti-Americanism: once again the majority of the world's population will whisper, "Only in America" could this happen. It will make a huge dent in the strong silent prejudice against blacks in many societies, from America to Europe, from Latin America to Asia. And if we can reduce this deep ethnic prejudice, we may have hope for other ethnic divides, like those between Israelis and Palestinians, or Tamils and Sinhalese. If we can finally focus on our common humanity, we have a real opportunity to create a better world.

By Kishore Mahbubani
Professor, National University of Singapore