World Reaction to Obama Win

International reaction to the historic election of Barack Obama as President-elect of the United States has begun.

I’m collecting some reactions to Obama’s victory from around the world. (The photo to the left is from Israel)

Reaction to Obama’s win ranged from jubilation to trepidation on the streets of the world’s capital cities as official congratulations from heads of state began to flow shortly after Republican candidate John McCain conceded the election.[McCain’s concession speech was very impressive, BTW]

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called Obama’s victory in the US presidential election a “momentous” day for Kenya, where Obama’s father was born.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Obama’s victory took the world into a “new era.” “The election of Senator Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has taken the American people and the rest of the world with them into a new era – an era where race, colour and ethnicity, I hope, will also disappear… in politics in the rest of the world,” he said.

BBC: World Welcomes Obama Victory. The United States has seen the biggest transformation in its standing in the world since the election of Kennedy in November 1960. This is a country which has habitually, sometimes irritatingly, regarded itself as young and vibrant, the envy of the world. Often this is merely hype. But there are times when it is entirely true. With Barack Obama’s victory, one of these moments seems to have arrived.

LONDON: Within hours of Senator Barack Obama claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, the world’s attention switched from a primary campaign that had riveted outsiders to a presidential contest that raises deep concerns about where and how America will lead the world.

Even though Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton did not immediately concede defeat, Obama’s claim shifted the focus from the tantalizing question of the primaries — were the Democrats prepared to make history on matters of race and gender — to the looming battle between relative youth and relative age, between experience and renewal and, most of all, between the untested champion of the Democrats to the nominee of a Republican Party whose global image has been scarred by the war in Iraq and fear of neo-conservative adventures.

…Gerard Baker, the U.S. editor of The Times of London, wrote: “In 220 years a country that has steadily multiplied in diversity, where ethnic minorities and women have risen to the very highest positions in so many fields of human life, has chosen a succession of 42 white men as its leader. For good measure, the vice presidency, the only other nationally directly elected position in the US government, has been held by a succession of 46 white males.”

“But last night, in a tumultuous break with this long history, the ultimate realization of the American dream moved a little closer, and a black man became his party’s nominee for the presidency,” Baker wrote.

The Guardian: Obama is England’s Hope Too They did it. They really did it. So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in the eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world. Though bombarded by a blizzard of last-minute negative advertising that should shame the Republican party, American voters held their nerve and elected Barack Obama as their new president to succeed George Bush. Elected him, what is more, by a clearer majority than one of those bitter narrow margins that marked the last two elections…

…Mr Obama will take office in January amid massive unrealisable expectations and facing a daunting list of problems – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the broken healthcare system, the spiralling federal budget and America’s profligate energy regime all prominent among them. Eclipsing them all, as Mr Obama has made clear in recent days, is the challenge of rebuilding the economy and the banking system. These, though, are issues for another day. Today is for celebration, for happiness and for reflected human glory. Savour those words: President Barack Obama, America’s hope and, in no small way, ours too.

Haaretz: Israel is worried about what the outcome of America’s presidential election may portend for Washington’s policy on Iran. On most Israel-related issues, Jerusalem foresees no dramatic changes in U.S. policy, regardless of who is elected. On Iran, however, it is worried that Democratic candidate Barack Obama will take a significantly softer line than the outgoing administration has. During his campaign, Obama repeatedly said that if elected, he would begin a dialogue with the Iranian regime.

The Australian: Obama Has World Mandate IT IS a sublime moment – Barack Obama to succeed George W. Bush, an affirmation of America, its foundation mission, its abiding dreams.

The American people have turned the page. This is more than a vote for change. It is a act of renewal, a turning point in American history and a quest for a better nation. The American people chose Obama yet most of the world also wanted Obama – that invests his Presidency with a potential authority unknown in history and an opportunity to touch not just Americans but people around the world.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: Obama has turned Martin Luther King’s dream into a reality . “Twenty-five years ago Martin Luther King had a dream of an America where men and women would be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character,” Rudd told reporters. “Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality.”

New Straits Times: TODAY we will feast our eyes, ears and hearts on the results of our election. Oops. Well, it does seem as if the United States’ presidential election this time around belongs not just to the Americans. From the pastoral plains of Kenya, whose citizens proudly claim Barack Obama as their own, to the dizzy cheerleading of a Japanese fishing port called Obama, the US presidential race is not just some run-of-the-mill passing-of-a-governing-baton. Locally, we will have woken up this morning to results coming in from American states in the morning right through noon and beyond. For the first time in history, people all over the world are riveted to an election they feel invested in…

Why I Am Voting for Barack Obama

I am interrupting my 4-fold post on 44 lessons of church leadership to write about why I have chosen to vote for Barack Obama…

The foundational reason that I am voting for Obama is leadership style. While it is true that we are taking a chance on Obama’s leadership capacity, I see the primary difference between our two choices as a warrior narrative vs. a community narrative. From my perspective McCain is representative of a warrior narrative that includes the perspective of leadership that essentially seeks to fulfill the notion that what is good for America should be imposed on the rest of the world. A few years ago I wrote a paper investigating the reasons why America is increasingly hated around the world – even after the initial outpouring of worldwide sympathy following the 9/11 attacks. My research concluded that there are four primary and overlapping reasons.

1. Our practice of double standards
2. Our practice of economic unilateralism
3. Our practice of military unilateralism
4. Our practice of an egocentric viewpoint

The Practice of Double Standards
America is perceived by much of the rest of the world to practice double standards in three primary areas:

  • As the most powerful nation in the world and one that often invokes the moral high road. The actions of our military and the exports of our popular culture oftentimes are viewed to be exceedingly hypocritical.
  • American support for Israel, even in the face of harsh treatment of the Palestinians.
  • Washington’s support of authoritarian or corrupt regimes over the years when they could serve America’s interests.

The Practice of Economic Unilateralism
The interlocking trends of globalization, neoliberalism, capitalist legitimacy, and overproduction provide the context for understanding our unilateralist thrust. The policies of the Clinton administration put primary emphasis on the expansion of the world economy as the basis of the prosperity of the global capitalist class. For instance, in the mid-1990s, a strong dollar policy meant to stimulate the recovery of the Japanese and German economies was pushed, so they could serve as markets for US goods and services. However, the current administration has employed a weak dollar policy to regain competitiveness at the expense of the other economies. The weak dollar policy is meant to revive the US economy and primarily push the interests of the US corporate elite instead of that of the global capitalist class under conditions of a global downturn. This practice has failed miserably for the majority of working class Americans, not to mention the affects around the world.

The Practice of Military Unilateralism
War, as opposed to diplomacy and sanctions, has once again been placed on the international agenda. The current administration has declared that there will be a series of military actions against terrorism, of which the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are only the first. Moreover, the US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) arms control treaty raises the possibility of a new arms race centering on ballistic missiles and anti-missile systems. These trends indicate that America is committed to military unilateralism — when it serves our interests. The all too frequent preference for militaristic solutions without a resolution of approval from the United Nations and with minimal consultation and the cooperation of other nations has created a reservoir of resentment and is regarded around the world as blatant imperialism.

The Practice of an Egocentric Viewpoint
America’s idealized view of the future of humanity permits a sometimes perverse, dangerous, and often brutally destructive disconnection between ends and means. To define the idea of America as the global future preference is viewed as an egocentric and arrogant denial of the freedom and sovereign choices of other nations. We have seemingly been hypnotized by a quest for the acquisition of globally marketed goods and competition and we seem fearful of not getting ahead fast enough. We have been perceived as acting like elitist and self-absorbed children, believing that our way is the best way to make progress — even though global poverty and environmental degradation grow worse rather than better.

In my view McCain’s warrior narrative would continue to push the double standards, economic and military unilateralism, and egocentric viewpoint that has driven us into the current economic and cultural crises. My own personal opinion is that McCain is angry and reactive and while that may be permissible as a senator, it could have disastrous effects as the President. Finally, McCain’s choice of Palin was downright scary to me. While she has personal charisma and the potential to be a force in Republican politics in the years ahead, she seems wholly unprepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency – especially one in his early seventies on inauguration day.

Obama’s community narrative seems to me to be the more appropriate choice. It is a different kind of leadership for the new era in which we live. What is a “community narrative”? My use of the term suggests that Obama is more willing to engage the rest of the world as representing one of many nations that seek the highest good for our increasingly global village. Obama has also demonstrated a proclivity to seek the input of the best and the brightest to help shape the future of America. And I like his wife, Michelle. She seems down to earth and my perception is that she will keep him grounded. She also has the intellectual capacity (and background) to engage a host of issues in a complimentary way.

As an active, intentional follower of Christ – what about the sacred issues that have driven the evangelical agenda? My basic view is that the western Church has fallen under (basically) the same spell as our (western) cultural and political tendencies – we, the (western) Church, have also practiced double standards, unilateralism, and the practice of an egocentric viewpoint. I believe that over the last several decades (if not centuries) that leadership and evangelism in the (western) Church has been more about talking (and reacting) than listening (and responding). We are entering into a (postmodern) season where leadership and evangelism will be much more about listening than talking. There is a huge difference between discussion and dialogue (think about it).

Finally, I am firmly pro-life. I also believe that we – as a nation and as a Church have never really talked about the underlying issue. Women don’t trust men to tell them what to do with their bodies. In a normative backlash to millennia of male domination and abject sexism, women are asserting themselves. Women want, and deserve, to be wholeheartedly regarded as equal to men. That means equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities – both in society and in the Church. As this relates to the Church, each one will need to engage Scripture with fresh eyes and a humble, repentant attitude. Wherever our well thought and prayerful theologies lead us, we can certainly admit that women have been unfairly treated and disrespected since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. Repentance, honor, authenticity, dialogue, and action will save more lives than our previous attempts to legislate morality. The message of Jesus is radical — and subversive. It captures one heart at a time. Jesus, and the writers of the New Testament, prayed for, lived for, and ministered to the hearts and longings of lost and broken people. If the Church can recover the pastoral heart of servant-influence (leadership), we can make great headway in the plethora of causes that fill our hearts – no matter who the next President of the United States is.