Monday, December 21, 2009

Obama and America's Image

Interesting essay suggesting that Obama has quickly altered "the American brand" by something like 20% in a year.
The United States, which had languished around seventh place in my index since 2005, shot up to first place, and not just in the perceptions of one or two countries. For a sample representing some 60 percent of the world's population and 77 percent of its economy, America is suddenly the most admired country on Earth.
I have felt far less embarrassed the past year or so to be an American outside of the USA, and I guess there is a basis for this. 

Does this really matter?  Well, if standing next to Obama is something that other politicians want to do (and they certainly do--Canadian Prime Minister Harper and the opposition leader Ignatieff, for example), then Obama has heaps of influence.  Diplomacy is more than the threat or use of force, so Obama having more sway is significant.  Certainly, other leaders will have an easy time since they cannot be painted as lackeys/allies of Bush, which definitely made the NATO effort in Afghanistan far more complicated.

But I do have doubts that the American brand is now $2 trillion larger than it was last year.  But perhaps there is a method to this strangeness.

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