Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Spaniards Weigh In

One of Carlos Alberto Montaner's best columns in a while, a skeptical examination of what Obama's election will and won't mean to foreign election-watchers.
[Foreigners] prefer Obama. Why? For the wrong reasons: because the image of the United States that prevails worldwide is very negative.

Without considering the shadings, without stopping to compare, they see the country as an imperial power manipulated by the big economic corporations, a power that militarily abuses the weakest, consumes a substantial portion of the riches of the planet, pollutes without remorse, alienates the poor within its borders -- to the extreme of denying them medical care -- and generates grave international financial turbulence. In other words, exactly the image projected by Michael Moore in his biased documentaries and by much of the American academic establishment in its college classrooms and publications.

To the world, this is what Obama is going to change. There is a directly proportional relationship between the international degree of emotional support for Obama and the bad perception of the United States. The worse the image of the country, the more confident people are that the young African-American senator will eliminate the reprehensible conduct attributed to the United States.

When Obama says he will change the country (even though he has not defined what he's going to change and how), he is perceived beyond the borders as a revolutionary who will finally put an end to the abuses of the CIA and the International Monetary Fund, withdraw the troops stationed abroad, bring the multinationals to task, protect the environment no matter what the cost, and govern to the benefit of the poor.

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Contrary to Kennedy's rhetorical premise, what's important, what's revolutionary is not what Obama can do for his country but what his country has done for Obama in a relatively brief period. That's what is admirable.

What Montaner leaves out, however, is that the worst excesses of the Bush Administration, the brand new reasons to resent the US that were W's gift to the world, will almost certainly be reversed under Obama. After eight years of Obama, there will almost certainly be no prison in Guantánamo, no extralegal domestic spying program, and, one way or another, no war in Iraq. It also seems a fair bet that new wars would be much less likely with Obama. Not so with John McCain.

2 comments:

Will Baird said...

the abuses of [...] the International Monetary Fund

Isn't the IMF mostly run by the Europeans? I thought the World Bank was the "American" wing of the international financial house. Or am I terribly mistaken?

Patrick Corcoran said...

The Europeans have the chair, but I think the US govt is the biggest donor and, down here anyway, is perceived as throwing around the most weight in IMF.