Campaigning Abroad: A welcome change or an exercise in futility?

With both candidates spending some time abroad to explain their foreign affairs strategies (Obama currently in Afghanistan and soon in Europe, McCain in Mexico and Colombia) the rest of the world wonders whether they should celebrate this new emphasis on international relations or expect a potential backlash for either candidates.

Nicole Bacharan, on “Le blog USA 2008″ believes Obama will certainly advocate for a greater commitment from NATO in Afghanistan.

She adds about Obama's Europe visit (fr):

“On peut s’attendre à ce que les Européens (Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown…) reçoivent Obama avec chaleur. Mais aussi prudence. Il est normal de se rencontrer et d’apprendre à se connaître. Il serait évidemment mal venu d’avoir l’air de prendre parti dans la présidentielle américaine. En Allemagne, certains critiquent déjà le projet d’Obama (mais sera-t-il maintenu ?) de prononcer un discours devant la porte de Brandebourg”

One may expect that the Europeans (Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown…) will receive Obama warmly, with a bit of caution though. It is normal to meet in person and learn to know each other better. However, it would be bad protocol to look like one is taking side in the presidential elections. In Germany, some are already criticizing the Obama project (if actually carried through) to have a speech in front of the Brandenbourg Gate.

Anne Applebaum ‘s column on the reason for candidates to campaign abroad was entirely translated in French on the influential blog Applebaum argues that foreign observers, should all rejoice from this new turn of events in American politics:

“It matters how America is perceived abroad, and not just because it's nice to be popular. When America and American values are admired in other countries, American politicians have more influence on foreign affairs”.

The reactions to the article from French readers in the comment section are quite diverse. Pierre JC Allard from the blog Nouvelle Société agrees that image projected to the rest of the world matters to Americans (fr):

Les Américains souffrent du mépris et souvent de la haine globale que leur a value la présidence Bush Ils se meurent de voir Obama applaudi par des Européens

Americans suffer from the spite and global hate that stemmed from the Bush administration, they would love to see Obama welcomed by the Europeans.

Ira, another commenter on the article, begs to differ (fr):

cet article tente de nous faire croire que les Etats-unis profonds se préoccupent de ce que pense le reste du monde…vaste rigolade ! (je reste décent) Un autre futur président potentiel – McCain -, qui représente une partie de ce “bon peuple”, apporte un premier démenti : le lundi 14 juillet à Phoenix en Arizona, il affirme s'inquiéter des rapports tendus entre la Russie et la Tchécoslovaquie… pays qui n'existe plus depuis le 31 décembre 1992.

This article is trying to convince us that America's heartlands care about what the rest of the world thinks…what a joke ! ( and I am being polite). Another future potential president-McCain- who represents parts of those “good people” brings evidence to the contrary: on Monday, July 14th in Phoenix, Arizona, he states that he is worried about the tense relationship between Russia and Czechoslovakia…a country that does not exist anymore since Dec, 31st 1992

Finally, Yannick Mireur concludes in his blog “politique americaine” (fr):

“L'Amérique ne changera pas… La patriotisme à la fois naïvement démonstrateur, presque enfantin (les drapeaux aux fenêtres, les pin's obligatoires à la boutonnière, etc.), et militarisé, est devenu un trait culturel dont le prochain président aura du mal à se défaire, y compris Obama”

America will not change… the patriotism that is naively demonstrative, almost infantile ( flags on windows, flag pins..) and militarized, has become a cultural trait that the next president will have a hard time getting away from, Obama included.


Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.