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Obama’s 2nd term mostly welcomed in Europe
Question of the Day
Berlin — It wasn’t tinged with the euphoric hope of 2008, but the reaction from Europe and the rest of the world to President Obama’s re-election ranged from genuine warmth for the U.S. leader to a welcomed continuity in American foreign policy.
In Europe, where Mr. Obama was greeted as a rock star four years ago with the hope of a turnaround of the rocky trans-Atlantic relationship of the George W. Bush era, Mr. Obama’s win was seen by many as a reaffirmation of a cosmopolitan, modern America – one to which Europeans, with their center-left politics, can relate.
“He’s a much more Eurocentric, world-thinking leader than they’ve had before,” said Amy Taylor, 25, of London.
With Europe facing a devastating debt crisis, European leaders expressed hope that Mr. Obama, who has been accused of all but ignoring the Continent during his term, would stress the need for trans-Atlantic cooperation.
“Creation of growth and jobs remains a priority for both the U.S. and the [European Union] and we will continue to work with President Obama to unlock the unparalleled potential of the transatlantic market,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in a joint statement.
Still, some say Europeans have not viewed Mr. Obama’s presidency with the critical lens to which Republican presidents have been subject.
Jan Techau, a Europe analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Brussels, said drone attacks in Pakistan are one example.
The Obama administration has increased the number of such strikes fivefold in the past 31/2years, according to a joint study by Stanford Law School and New York University School of Law.
“He hasn’t really received a lot of criticism for that, except among intellectuals, but not an overall kind of outrage,” Mr. Techau said. “If this was something George W. Bush had done to the same extent, the outrage in Europe would have been tremendous.”
“Europeans feel fundamentally close to Obama, they think he’s a sympathetic guy; they identify with him, so the record doesn’t matter too much,” he added.
In South Asia, however, many would have preferred a victory by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, analysts said.
“There were many more people in Pakistan who didn’t want Obama re-elected than anywhere else in the world,” said Farzana Shaikh, an associate fellow with the Asia program at Chatham House think tank in London.
“It’s much more anti-Obama, rather than pro-Romney. This election was very closely watched in Pakistan, and it’s very symptomatic of this love-hate relationship that Pakistan has had with the U.S. for a long time.”
Some in the Arab world expressed relief at Mr. Obama’s victory, even going so far as proclaiming that the Democrat’s re-election meant the danger of another war had been dodged.
“I wished [for Obama’s victory] because I believe that if Romney won, it would have been the first step on the road to another war with the Arab world,” said Abdalla Al-Ashaal, a professor of international relations at Cairo University and a former deputy foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders were “falling all over themselves” to congratulate Mr. Obama on his victory, said David Hartwell, IHS Jane’s senior Middle East analyst in London.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces elections in January and has clashed often with Mr. Obama on issues such as Iran’s nuclear threat, promised that he would “continue to work with President Obama to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel’s citizens.”
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI congratulated Mr. Obama on his re-election, even though American Catholic bishops opposed his abortion policies.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao jointly congratulated Obama on his re-election, noting “positive progress” in Sino-U.S. relations over the past four years, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Mr. Romney had vowed to take action against China as a “currency manipulator,” and many there feared he would start a trade war.
Meanwhile, Russia gave a lukewarm welcome to Mr. Obama’s re-election.
“In general, the Kremlin reacted extremely positively to Barack Obama’s election victory” and expressed hope that bilateral relations would “develop,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.
Marc Bennetts in Moscow, Mohannad Sabry in Cairo and Louise Osborne in London contributed to this article.
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