- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A top White House adviser on Monday said President Obama’s trips to Europe, Turkey and Latin America in recent weeks have “created a new receptivity” to U.S. interests and made America-bashing uncool.

“Anti-Americanism isn’t cool anymore,” said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s senior advisers, speaking to an audience of a few hundred at a conference in the District 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,” said Mr. Axelrod, arguing that Mr. Obama’s approach to foreign policy has included “a sense of humility” that “was missing” in the past.

“We’ve restored that. That’s part of the accomplishment of the first 100 days,” he said to applause.

The comments came one day after Mr. Obama returned from a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders in Trinidad, 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.

Though critics have said that Mr. Obama was unwise to show deference to leaders such as Mr. Chavez, Mr. Axelrod said the president’s approach has “created a new receptivity to him, to our interests, to our shared interests around the world.”

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.

Mr. Obama’s style is vastly different from former President George W. Bush, who was perceived as someone who dictated to allies and enemies.

Though Mr. Axelrod said there have been “tangible benefits” from the Obama approach, he listed as evidence for this claim only increased funding for the International Monetary Fund at a global economic summit in London.

European leaders at that summit rejected calls for increased stimulus spending. In France, Mr. Obama’s call for more contributions from NATO members to the war in Afghanistan yielded about 5,000 troops and trainers, but most of those will serve in noncombat functions.

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