- Posted May 12, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Across the Pond Disappointment in Obama
The first couple of years that President Barack Obama was on the world stage, he was receiving applause, admiration and high hopes from citizens and governments around the world.
Fast forward to 2012.
That perception is no longer so optimistic and many around the world who saw a chance for hope and change from the new President of the United States are feeling let down and disappointed.
While those in foreign lands still prefer having the President be given another 4 years in office, the star power he once enjoyed has faded. The luster has come off and the disappointement is being voiced.
In Europe, where more than 200,000 people thronged a Berlin rally in 2008 to hear Barack Obama speak, there's disappointment that he hasn't kept his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and perceptions that he's shunting blame for the financial crisis across the Atlantic.
In Mogadishu, a former teacher wishes he had sent more economic assistance and fewer armed drones to fix Somalia's problems. And many in the Middle East wonder what became of Obama's vow, in a landmark 2009 speech at the University of Cairo, to forge a closer relationship with the Muslim world.
In a world weary of war and economic crises, and concerned about global climate change, the consensus is that Obama has not lived up to the lofty expectations that surrounded his 2008 election and Nobel Peace Prize a year later. Many in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America were also taken aback by his support for gay marriage, a taboo subject among religious conservatives.
"We all had high hopes for him," said Filomena Cunha, an office worker in Lisbon, Portugal, who said she's struggling to make ends meet. "But then things got bad and there's not much he can do for us over here."
Obama's rock-star-like reception at Berlin's Victory Column in the summer of 2008 was a high point of a wildly successful European campaign tour. The thawing of a harsh anti-Americanism that had thrived in Europe was as much a reaction to the Bush years as it was an embrace of the presidential hopeful.
Those high European expectations have turned into disappointment, largely because of the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and Obama's failure to close Guantanamo Bay in the face of vehement congressional opposition.
Obama's views on Europe's financial crisis also have rankled some on the continent. In September, he said the crisis was "scaring the world" and that steps taken by European nations to stem the eurozone debt problem "haven't been as quick as they need to be."
The Obama administration describes the eurozone crisis as a European problem that needs a European solution. The U.S. and Canada last month refused to participate in boosting the International Monetary Fund's financial resources to manage the crisis.
"I think people see through his game to put the blame on Europeans - I think Germans and Europeans still know where the economic crisis had its beginning," Braml said. "That's just finger-pointing, not doing a fair analysis of the dire situation in the U.S., but I can understand Obama is doing that because he wants to get re-elected so they need to shift blame around on the Republicans or the Europeans."
Many in the Mideast also would like to see Obama win a second term, though they feel he has not lived up to his Cairo speech, in which he extended a hand to the Islamic world by calling for an end to the cycle of suspicion and discord.
Obama has been the U.S. president "least involved in the Palestinian issue," said Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama also has a strained relationship with Israel, where Bush was popular. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been cool to one another in their handful of meetings. Obama's Mideast envoy, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, made no progress during two years of frequent meetings with both sides before quitting last year.
"Concerning Israel, he has proved that he is not absolutely rigid but is willing to reconsider when confronted with facts that he would not have expected," said Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.
"He began very inexperienced on all fronts, but he is a very intelligent person and Israelis see that," Diskin added.
In Iraq, site of the war that fed much of the international community's dislike of Bush, Obama has received some credit for pulling out combat forces last year.
"President Obama has removed so much of the cowboy image of America that has been imprinted in the mentality of Iraqis by Bush," Baghdad lawyer Raad Mehsin said.
But Carawan Ahmed, a high school teacher in Iraq's northern Kurdish capital of Irbil, said Obama has ignored the Kurdish minority, which continues to struggle against the Shiite-dominated government.
"When Democrats, including Obama, are in power, we lose the sympathy and support from America. To be frank, the Republicans protected the Kurdish people, while Obama's administration is not," Ahmed said.
In Mogadishu, former schoolteacher Fadumo Hussein retains a shaken support for Obama, but disapproves of the mounting casualties from U.S. drone attacks on Somalia's al-Qaida-linked insurgency while the country's humanitarian need is neglected.
"He only sent drones, not enough assistance," Hussein said. "We don't need bombs, but other means of assistance."
From the Cornfield, reality sure can bite the hype and fantasy.
As I have said before, all that glitters is not gold.