Is Obamamania Hurting the World?
Europe likes the U.S. again, but is that good for internationalism?
Germans turned out en masse to hear Barack Obama speak when he visited Berlin as a presidential candidate; the Nobel committee thinks President Obama is re-starting international diplomacy; Nicolas Sarkozy says the peace prize "sets the seal on America's return to the heart of all the world's peoples." Conservatives may sneer at liberals' need for European approval, but at least Obama is good news for the international community, right?
Maybe not, says Naomi Klein in the Guardian. In fact, she thinks the return to America-loving might be killing the very multilateral moves it is supposed to be facilitating.
Now Europe and the US are officially reunited, it seems appropriate to consider whether this is necessarily a good thing. The Nobel committee, which awarded the prize for Obama's embrace of "multilateral diplomacy", is evidently convinced that US engagement on the world stage is a triumph for peace and justice. I'm not so sure. After nine months in office, Obama has a clear track record as a global player. Again and again, US negotiators have chosen not to strengthen international laws and protocols but to weaken them, often leading other rich countries in a race to the bottom.
The problem with Obamamania, Klein suggests, is that instead of the U.S. favoring weaker international commitments and other countries fighting back, as they did under Bush, Obama's star power is now leading these countries towards fawning capitulation. Take, for example, the results from the recent climate negotiations in Bangkok:
These kinds of weak proposals were not altogether surprising coming from the US; what was shocking was the sudden unity of the rich world around the plan – including many countries that had previously sung the praises of Kyoto.
So what do you think: Is this new goodwill towards the United States actually harming the global community?