Overseas support for Obama endures, but mood shifts

 

USA

Four years ago, the world exalted in the election of America's first black president, seeing in Barack Obama an affirmation of the American dream and the prospect of dramatic possibility after eight years under George W. Bush.

As people across the globe watched election results stream in on Tuesday, there was far more indifference than exuberance. Although Obama still enjoys wide popular support overseas, his first term in office has left many with a sense of the United States as a somewhat distracted power with less ability to influence world events.

Perhaps nowhere is the shift in mood greater than in Obama's ancestral home of Kenya, which in 2008 was gripped by Obama-mania. The capital, Nairobi, was plastered with his likeness on T-shirts, key chains and even a beer brand. This year, Obama paraphernalia was hard to find anywhere. And though he was still the favorite among Kenyans, there was a widespread belief that the first American president of African descent had largely neglected the continent.

"When Obama was elected in 2008, he gained the status of a demigod of some sort in most of Africa. The years that followed, however, were marked by disappointment," wrote Charles Onyango-Obbo, a columnist for Daily Nation, Kenya's most respected newspaper.

The feeling was similar Tuesday in Mexico, where many expressed frustration that neither Obama nor Republican nominee Mitt Romney addressed key cross-border issues such as bilateral trade, immigration, arms smuggling or the 60,000 Mexicans killed in drug violence.

"In the last debate between Obama and Romney, the candidates expressed regret for the 30,000 killed in the conflict in Syria. Not one word for the Mexican humanitarian tragedy in Mexico," Sergio Aguayo, a professor at the College of Mexico, said in an online debate forum called "El Palenque."

And in the Arab Middle East, there was a sense that the United States has been largely absent. For Egypt, "it does not matter much who wins," said Abdo Deif, a cashier at a Cairo supermarket. "With the state the country is in, there is no time to discuss the U.S. elections, not now when people are worried about water, bread and gas."

Libya may be an exception to the ambivalence. Despite a September attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, the United States has enjoyed greater popularity in Libya than elsewhere in the Middle East because of its role in supporting the country's revolution last year. "We are very interested in how this election goes," said Tarek Ali, a gold seller in Tripoli. "Personally, I love Obama."

In Europe, too, Obama was the overwhelming favorite, according to several polls, including one by the German Marshall Fund and another by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC.

In Germany, where more than 200,000 people turned out in Berlin to support Obama during his 2008 campaign, even many right-wing politicians privately said they were hoping that he wins reelection.

But Germans have seen many of their hopes turn to disappointment as Obama pivoted to the Asia-Pacific in a search for new business partners. Now the United States is seen by Germans as a fading superpower, and many expect that the United States will continue what they view as its global retreat.

One place where the view of Obama has been more sharply conflicted is Israel, where many fear a second Obama term would lead to tension over Iran and more pressure to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

In Afghanistan, Obama is disliked for having escalated the war, but many Afghans also fear the consequences of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of 2014, which could lead to a collapse of the Kabul government.

Obama has taken tough trade actions against China, including filing a complaint in September with the World Trade Organization over Beijing's subsidies for exported car parts and an earlier 2009 anti-dumping complaint over Chinese tires.

But Chinese academics and others view the moves as attempts to win over voters in the crucial swing state of Ohio and predicted that a less aggressive strategy would prevail once the election had passed.

---

Richburg reported from Beijing. Sudarsan Raghavan in Nairobi, Kenya, William Booth in Mexico City, Abigail Hauslohner in Tripoli, Libya, Pamela Constable in Kabul, Afghanistan, Edward Cody in Paris, Ingy Hassieb in Cairo, Joel Greenberg in Jerusalem and Michael Birnbaum in Berlin contributed to this report.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'