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Axelrod: Anti-Americanism now ‘not cool’

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

Top White House adviser David Axelrod on Monday said that President Obama's trips to Europe, Turkey and Latin America in the last three weeks have made anti-American sentiment uncool and "created a new receptivity" to U.S. interests.

"What's happened is anti-Americanism isn't cool anymore," Mr. Axelrod said, speaking to an audience of a few hundred at a conference in Washington sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

"This president has not only engaged the leaders of the world, he's engaged the people of the world," Mr. Axelrod said, arguing that Mr. Obama's approach to foreign policy has restored "a sense of humility" that "was missing" in the past.

Mr. Obama returned Sunday evening from a four-day trip to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, where he sat through a 53-minute anti-American rant from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and exchanged handshakes and smiles with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has made no secret of his intent to undermine U.S. interests in the region.

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Earlier this month Mr. Obama traveled to Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey, where he employed a technique of admitting U.S. errors and weaknesses as a precursor to calling on allies to do more in addressing the global economic crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and anti-American sentiment.

Results of this new model foreign policy approach — which is vastly different from President Bush, who was perceived as someone who dictated to allies and enemies — have so far been mixed. But Mr. Obama has made no secret of his intent to listen and not just talk in foreign policy settings.

Mr. Axelrod said that this has "created a new receptivity to him, to our interests, to our shared interests around the world."