With nine months in the White House, Obama’s (see facts, short biography) main course and his leadership style are beginning to take shape. And after a start-up marked by high expectations and high public opinion figures, everyday life has now taken hold at home for the new president. Admiration and trust have been replaced by budding skepticism and outright distrust. The difficulties have gradually also increased away from home, but Obama has nevertheless, through his line of foreign policy cooperation, contributed to a decisive improvement in the international debate climate. The Norwegian Nobel Committee considered this so important that it awarded the President of the United States this year’s Peace Prize.
- Why did President Obama receive the Nobel Peace Prize?
- What has happened to the United States’ reputation since the change of president?
- What major international problems is Obama facing?
- What are the characteristics of Obama as a leader?
2: Presents the United States again
The Bush policy, and especially the Iraq issue, created problems for the United States in international politics. The most serious was that the country’s policy in important areas lost international legitimacy. Thus , the United States was no longer able to set the international agenda or gain the understanding of others for its views. The world was turning its back on the United States, and even when the Bush administration had good arguments, many countries were reluctant to listen.
Obama’s first major task was to change this image – that is, better the American reputation – and put the United States in the international driver’s seat again. Anything else would have major consequences for the United States’ international position of power. And the chances of achieving important US foreign policy goals would be significantly weakened. Obama therefore had to present a new United States to the world.
President Obama has come a long way in succeeding with his turnaround operation; he has managed to recreate much of the traditional foundation of the United States’ dominant international position. In a very effective way, he has used the signal of change that lies in his own person and in the election of him as American president. The difference in personal style – compared to its predecessor – could hardly have been greater.
By profiling himself as the personification of the new United States, a country located in North America according to ezinereligion, Obama has made large parts of the world community put old attitudes aside and look at the United States with new, fresh eyes. Not everyone has been equally impressed, but by and large, the attitude towards the United States has become far more positive in the outside world than it was under its predecessor.
3: A realpolitik approach
Obama has succeeded in regaining the good reputation of the United States. This is due to a change of style , but also as much to the new basic foreign policy orientation that Obama has put forward. In short, he has conveyed a United States that is willing to listen and to talk , even with its main opponents. Moreover, also a United States that realizes and understands that even a superpower has limited ability to do something effective on their own with the problems of the country and the world. This was the main message when Obama visited Europe and the Middle East earlier this year. And that was the common thread in his speech to the UN General Assembly on 23 September (see cover image). Not surprisingly, it is precisely this aspect that the Nobel Committee highlights in the justification for the awarding of the Peace Prize.
At the same time, Obama has also emphasized that US leadership remains crucial to international problem-solving. He has therefore argued for what can best be characterized as a realpolitik course where diplomacy, institutions and softer forms of power should have a central place. Military power will continue to be a major instrument, but now as equated with other instruments. That Obama has a radically different view of e.g. environmental issues than his predecessor, and the fact that he intends to remove all nuclear weapons , are two more important reasons why he has managed to recreate much of the basis for the United States’ dominant position.
By bringing about a shift in the view of the United States in large parts of the world, Obama has given himself an opportunity for influence and a room for maneuver that Bush did not have. But at the same time, it is also clear that all this is only the first, and perhaps simplest, part of the implementation of the president’s foreign policy. The concrete handling of the various challenges will definitely be more difficult, and the challenges are formally in line.