May 12, 2008
Richard hits on an important point when he writes:
This is certainly true, but I think that Luttwak might be giving a bit too much credit to the Obamaniacs (not the undeceived Obamacons, like myself). They don”t so much confuse the potential reactions of East Africans with Muslims to an Obama presidency as conflate most all Third World people into one big happy “they”re not white or Asian” soup.
This is right, but I think Richard also gives them too much credit, as well, since I think they assume that Asians and white Latin Americans will also be thrilled by Obama’s election. Thus you had Roger Cohen
citing a former Mexican foreign minister waxing ecstatic: “My sense is the symbolism in Mexico of a dark-skinned American president would be enormous. We’ve got female leaders now in Latin America – in Chile, in Argentina. But the idea of a U.S. leader who looks the way the world looks as seen from Mexico is revolutionary.” That’s the key—the way “the world” (not including the Mexican ruling class!) looks. My guess is that those white autonomists in eastern Bolivia will not be terribly enthusiastic about an Obama victory, and they won’t be alone. As I have said before there is scarcely a more disrespectful, condescending attitude towards the rest of the world than the assumption that they can be bought off or won over with something as superficial as a U.S. President with a mixed racial background. If the Obama fans actually believe their candidate has some legitimate policy changes to introduce, that might be a reason for other nations to respond favorably to him, but on the whole the changes on offer are, like so much else in this campaign, symbolic and aesthetic. In the end, Obama fans project their own fantasies about “racial reconciliation” into the international sphere, implicitly likening the majority of the world to our minority populations, which is to belittle them a second time. This relieves them of the obligation to critique seriously U.S. foreign policy, which is the source of some significant part of anti-U.S. animus, since they have already concluded that America’s reputation can be repaired in some measure simply through the election of one man.